One main aspect of this class was the service learning project. Funny enough, I apparently missed the memo and did not know that it was a service-learning class. I had two service projects that fit in with my schedule, one being working with the elderly at Montefiore, and the other tutoring middle-schoolers at Open Doors Academy at Miles Park. I ended up opting for Open Doors, because I have a deep fear of nursing homes/retirement homes, and I have a lot of prior tutoring experiences. While I was hesitant about the idea of service, just because I worried that I would not have the time, I was happy to return to tutoring. I had over one hundred volunteer hours in high school from tutoring alone, so I expected to excel.
When my service group began our time at service, what struck me was how under-resourced the location was. For about twenty-five children, there were three staff members present consistently. Also, all of these kids were located in one gymnasium, and basically had free reign over what they did during the time they were there. To add, the kids did not have their own textbooks. Helping them with homework was a huge challenge due to this because several children had to share one book, which is not a productive study skill. They did not have large access to technology for research, only the staff members’ tablets. This was really eye-opening. I’m not used to being in an environment where things such as books are computers and a rarity.
Another issue was making a connection with the kids there. John Carroll Students are in a completely different environment than the kids at Open Doors. We are hugely sheltered and privileged, and those kids really aren’t. This was a major challenge. Because the kids were allowed to interact with their friends and get nothing accomplished, more often than not I felt like I just sat around doing nothing. I did make connections with a couple of the kids there, and I was more than happy to assist them with their homework. This was the upside to going to service every week.
Another aspect of this class was “kick-off” lectures and guest speakers. I have to give a big thumbs down to this. Three words: the water guy. To this day I don’t even know what the point of that presentation was. That was possibly the worst lecture I have ever had to attend. Also, some of the professor’s lectures weren’t that great (Sorry, Dr. Palmer, but the best professor-done speech goes to Dr. Shutkin solely on visual aids). Dr. Seither’s lecture on the digital divide lacked student interest, and having students come up to do examples did not help. Finally, I really like Dr. Peden as a person but that presentation with the sticky notes bombed horribly. As for guest speakers, kudos to the transgender speaker, Joyce Murton. Hands down, best day ever in FYS. That really held my attention and I found it aspiring that she comes to talk to JCU students every year.
Finally, the videos get a mixed review. Sometimes it has been a bit of an issue for me to do the assignments over the weekend when I’m home and a video gets assigned because we have a bandwidth limit at my house and thus, cannot stream videos (a slight part of the digital divide—oh, the irony). A little more notice would have been nice on these occasions. Overall though, the content of the videos was good. I really enjoyed the stream of videos we watched in class about the digital divide in rural areas; it was very eye-opening. I also enjoyed the first segment on what happens to cellphones and computers when we dispose of them. It wasn’t something I had taken a lot of time to think about, mainly because I did not have a cellphone until my graduation. It was something that I had never needed to think about.
Overall I enjoyed this class, but to a degree I found it semi-dull. I thought it repetitive and mindless at times unfortunately but at others I found it fascinating. All in all, though, I feel that’s not a horrible view to have on a college course.