Learning to Listen

We recently had a meeting for work that was all about how to listen effectively. At the time I didn’t understand the importance, but while working with the middle school girls in the community, I have realized that not only do the girls struggle with listening when someone is speaking, but so do I. All my life I thought I was a great listener and I also thought I gave the best advice! I soon realized that when I’m listening I don’t actually understand what is being said. When someone is having a conversation with me I may hear one word that sends my mind to focus on other topics that may relate to what is being said.  While working with the girls, I have recognized that many of them struggle with this as well. When we ask the girls a question it is difficult for them to understand what we are asking and many times they go off on a rant that is not relevant to the question that was asked. They may associate one word that we say with a scenario or story and that is how they answer. It is then hard to redirect the conversation because from there, other girls find stories that are similar to the first and they all want to share. Many times the girls are so excited about their own answers and making sure their hand is seen that they don’t even listen to the other girl’s views on the topic. I am the same way! So how do you listen not just to formulate a good response but, to understand what is being said? Many times when people come to us with their problems we tend to reply with our own personal stories that may relate to their situation in some way, but is that really what they wanted to hear? Probably not.

There is a time to speak and a time to listen. When you work on listening more than speaking you can find out so much about a person. But how do you contribute to the conversation if all your doing is listening? By asking good questions of course! When we make our girls think about their answers it opens their minds to understand what they are saying at a more complex level. When the girls do go off on rants that are far off topic we can steer them back by asking the other girls questions like how does her story relate to leadership? This helps to get the girls thinking rather that us just giving them the answer ourselves. It has been a difficult concept to grasp, and if it is hard for me to grasp it at the age of nineteen how can I expect these young girls to catch on? Continuing to ask them questions about why they think listening is important and asking them how they think they can become better listeners is a great place to start. Facilitating listening lessons where the girls present topics and then the other girls ask them questions about their presentations is a great way to start. Teaching the girls at a young age how to listen will be extremely beneficial in their classes and within the relationships that they build moving forward in life.

White Privilege Not Pure Imagination

As a recruiter for the Buckeye Civic Engagement Connection (BCEC), I am always looking for new volunteers to facilitate our programming. As an agency, I find it especially important (and difficult) to recruit white students. I focus especially on white students because it is important to have white volunteers so they can share their experiences with marginalized groups with their white peers who may otherwise assume characteristics of under-served populations from descriptions they hear in the media or elsewhere.

 I find myself evaluating white people in my everyday interactions, deciding if they would make a good fit with the department, and many times extending an invitation for them to apply. Myself being a European-American, or “White,” I meet my share of bigoted and racist individuals, whom are usually expecting a pale, sympathetic ear. Like the scene from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), I take on Gene Wilder’s Wonka to their Veruca Salt. With the blare of a racist comment in my ears, the arrow of my evaluation flips to the words “BAD EGG” and I continue searching. Being that our department works with several societally marginalized populations, it would be unproductive to have an oppressive person tasked with empowerment.

However, not all Buckeyes are bad eggs. In fact, I meet several white students who posses a sort of ‘Golden Ticket’––that ticket being an ability to understand racist constructs and sometimes even identity their White Privilege, a concept believed to be purely imaginative by some. Like an overzealous Augustus Gloop, a racist individual will lap up the waters of White Privilege until they eventually fall in, enamored with their own reflection, and thus no longer be able to comprehend the forces they have succumbed to because they’re swimming in it. But when I meet a special individual, one with two feet firmly planted on solid ground, my internal evaluation lights up in celebration. Sometimes it seems these individuals are as random and hard to find as a golden ticket in a candy wrapper, but nevertheless they exist.

I have had both of these experiences several times. Unfortunately, even the most enlightened conversation does not predict if a student will choose to apply. For example, I have had a few fantastic interactions with white fraternity brothers who can deconstruct racism, yet ultimately explain that can not find time in their schedules for any of our over 50 programs a week––or simply ignore my requests to apply altogether.

Why? I sometimes ask myself. How can someone clearly understand the need for social change and then refuse to join the department facilitating it? The answer is simple: White Privilege. Whether they join or not, their lives will be unaffected. Racism will continue to benefit them and others white people (myself included). Keeping with our Wonka theme, to some, a white man empowering marginalized races seems as illogical as Wonka giving up his recipes to help rival candymakers. Why help them when one could be helping yourself?

In the final scene of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Wonka forbids Charlie from claiming his prize despite making it to the end of the contest. Charlie, secretly having stolen Wonka’s prized ‘Everlasting Gobstopper’ knows he could easily sell the one-of-a-kind candy and make a fortune. Instead, Charlie does the seemingly illogical and returns the Gobstopper to Wonka and begins walking out the door completely empty-handed. He made the decision to give up what was not rightfully his and return to his squalor of a home because that was the fair and just thing to do on his part. To his surprise, Wonka, in a barely audible fashion, mumbles, “so shines a good deed in a weary world,” and begins exclaiming that Charlie has––in fact––won the competition. The chocolate factory is his and all is well in fantasyland.

Many white students I speak to hold on to their Everlasting Gobstopper, or White Privilege. It was not earned by them, but stolen by centuries of racism and oppression. White students know if times get tough or things do not go their way, they at least have their Gobstopper. However, when white people hold onto their racist privilege, their Gobstoppers, and refuse to help the people they draw their privilege from––that is the true failure.

I look for the people willing to give up their Everlasting Gobstoppers; those willing to renounce their privilege and empower the powerless.

As white Americans, we must consciously choose to give up our undue privileges. If we fail to do so, racism will be as everlasting as Wonka’s famous candy.

Nations of Equality?

Last month I had a once in a lifetime opportunity. I travelled thousands of miles to study some of the world’s most amazing animals in their natural habit in South Africa. The trip took lots of preparation and thousands of saved dollars. As a foreigner in South Africa, I was able to see and study over 70 different species that are native only to Africa.

My experience was amazing, but what was the experience of a native? The answer is simple, they didn’t have an experience. In fact, most South Africans never go on a safari. They never get to visit their national parks.

The harsh reality is that it is easier for an American to spend thousands of dollars and travel halfway around the world than it is for most South Africans to visit their own parks.

For starters, the parks are located far away from the city. As a tourist travelling with The Ohio State University, obtaining transportation was no problem at all. But for most South Africans, the cost and time involved here is too high. How can they afford transportation to visit a park when they are living in a shack and struggling to provide for dinner that night?

Upon arrival at the park, whether it be Kruger National Park or a private game reserve, a steep entrance fee must be paid. This is about 30 dollars or 300 South African Rand per person. This would be cost prohibitive for many American families, let alone most South Africans where the average annual income per household is a mere $6,800.

So who was in the park? I would say almost every single person I saw there was white. If you travelled to South Africa and only visited Kruger National Park, based on the people you saw you would think you were in Europe. This is astounding given the fact that over 90% of South Africans are NON-white, the majority being black or colored.

You could have told me that South Africa was still under Apartheid rule and I would have believed you. Every business we visited was owned by white people and operated by black people. The white people lived in fortified neighborhoods that resembled small fortresses, complete with electrified barbed wire fences. The black people lived in small half completed homes or shacks.

It is easy to be duped into thinking that South Africa is somehow equal now that Apartheid has ended. We all know who Nelson Mandela is and when we think of South Africa we think of a brilliant black leader in a country where blacks are thriving under newfound equality. The sad truth is that simply changing the law to declare equality, did not create equality.

You may be thinking, wow, I didn’t realize black South Africans were still suppressed by their country’s racist background! But, how different is this from the United States. How often do you see whites thriving and blacks struggling? South Africa denounced racism just 21 years ago. The United States has had 150 years since the end of slavery and 47 years since the end of the Civil Rights Movement.

Theoretically, we should be light years ahead of South Africa. We are not. It is pretty clear that it takes more than just a change in the code of law to create equality. This is why we need affirmative action. This is why we need equal funding of schools. This is why we need equal enforcement of the law.

Most whites today do not consider themselves racist. But we must understand that we were born into an inherently racist system with lingering effects from the past. We must actively seek to undue and correct for this racist inequality. Active racism isn’t the issue of today, complacent racism is. Are you part of the solution? If not, you are participating in racism and you have the power to change that.

Charleston Reflection

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015, another seemingly typical day in my young adult twenty years of life. At this point in time I don’t have that much on my plate to stress about; I’m young, healthy, blessed with the opportunity to attend one of the best universities in the country, blessed with a job that I love, and I feel safe. The day seems to fluctuate from moments of rapid activity to the seemingly eternal five minute “what-is-life-right-now?” reflections. Seconds turned into minutes, minutes turned into moments, moments turned into momentum and before I know it the day comes to an end. My morning and early afternoon with the kids at Trevitt Elementary seemed to fade away as quickly as it faded in. Helping to clean the church before bible study and bible study itself were like grains through the hourglass. Day turned into night, night turned into the reflection of the day, and my body shut down to prepare myself for the next day.

I woke up that Thursday morning with a news alert on my phone about the Charleston, South Carolina church shootings: Nine Dead in Church Shooting. This can’t be real. No. No this isn’t real. I frantically rushed downstairs to turn on the news. Headlines of the church shooting that had occurred flooded every news outlet. Dylann Roof, a twenty one year old white man, walked into the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston South Carolina, sat in on their Wednesday night bible study, and murdered nine people with the sole intention to “kill black people.” To say a wave of emotions washed over me in that moment would be an understatement. I didn’t know what to feel. To be completely honest I didn’t feel anything for a few hours. With tragedies like these there are two seemingly vague emotions that a typical human being is supposed to feel; sadness and/or anger. Reactions and emotions varied in degree across the nation but a general sense of unbelief clouded the American public. How could this happen? How could such a terrorist act driven by racism and hate occur on American soil, in 2015, and in a church? No, not America! Not us! This is unbelievable! As sickening and as sad as it is to admit, the death of nine innocent African American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina is very much so believable. This is a despairing reality that the American public has forgotten and is far too familiar. As time has taught us there is a history of terrorism on black churches in America. As the New York Times put it in a recent article following the Emanuel A.M.E. church shootings; “The killing of nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., is among a long list of attacks targeting predominantly black churches in the United States.”

Springfield, Massachusetts (2008) – Macedonia Church of God in Christ: The predominantly black church, which was under construction, was set on fire shortly after the election of President Obama. Of the three white men charged, two pleaded guilty and a third was convicted and sentenced to 13 years in prison. Knoxville, Tennesse (1996) – Inner City Baptist Church: A fire destroyed the sanctuary of the church and racial slurs were painted on the walls. Molotov cocktails, cans of kerosene and gunpowder were discovered in the rubble. Louisiana (1996)- Four Churches: A group of churches within a six-mile radius — Cypress Grove Baptist, St. Paul’s Free Baptist, and Thomas Chapel Benevolent Society in East Baton Rouge as well as Sweet Home Baptist in Baker — were set on fire on the anniversary of the sit-in in Greensboro, N.C. Manning, South Carolina (1995) – Macedonia Baptist Church: Four former members of the Ku Klux Klan set fire to the church, one of several burned by arsonists in the mid-1990s. A fire was set the day before at the Mount Zion A.M.E. Church in Greeleyville, S.C. A jury believed the Klan’s rhetoric motivated the men to set the fire. The fire was one of dozens at predominantly black churches across the South that were investigated as arson. Longdale, Mississippi (1964) – Mount Zion A.M.E. Church: The Ku Klux Klan beat parishioners as they were leaving a church meeting. The Klan’s intended target was a civil rights activist, Michael Schwerner, who was not there. The wood-framed church, a historic safe haven for slaves, was burned down. On June 21, Mr. Schwerner and two other civil rights workers drove to visit the burned church. Afterward, they were pulled over, arrested and jailed. After their release, they were beaten and killed. Birmingham, Alabama (1963) – 16th Street Church: The Ku Klux Klan set off a bomb under the steps of the church, killing four young girls and injuring more than 20 other members of the church. The 16th Street Baptist Church served as a civil rights meeting place in the 1960s and a center for the African-American community in Birmingham. The list goes on. Some stories never covered, some churches attacked numerous times over the course of their history. This is a part of our history as a nation. On Wednesday night June 17th, 2015, the attack on the Emanuel A.M.E. church became a part of American History.

As a Christian, a man of faith, a black man, and a human being, I was hurt. Like the family members did in the few days following the murders, I knew I had to forgive. I knew that personally I couldn’t let the poison of hate contaminate my heart. I knew that my heart had to be in line with the scripture that calls me to “love my enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” That night my family and I gathered around the living room to pray for the victims of shootings, the family members or loved ones, our nation as a whole, and Dylann Roof himself. Churches around the nation and around the world went on bended knees to cry out for peace in our nation and for yet another moment in history, a nation joined together in solidarity. Then as routine as it is life went on. As the wounds of our nation were once again exposed, we continued to live on without falter. We went back to our 9-5’s, we went back to our families, our neighborhood, and our worlds; our reality. My reality became another day with the Department of Social Change at The Ohio State University. My reality became another day at Trevitt Elementary on the east side of Columbus with my kids. My reality became another day combating systemic oppressions with areas of focus in education, mass incarceration, community development, design in urban and rural communities, and health and wellness. Just a week or so before the church shootings the topics of racism, oppression, depression, bullying, and suicide, were brought to my attention by some of the students that attend the summer program that our department runs. In the days that came afterwards I battled with continuing discussing these subjects with the kids wondering if I was even really making a difference. As news of Charleston plagued our television screens and our social media timelines, I realized that everything that these kids brought up were completely relevant and sadly remain completely relevant to life in America.

As part of the The Ohio State University’s mission, the Department of Social Change exists to advance the well-being of the people of Ohio and the global community through the creation and dissemination of knowledge. With my own role in the department I understand that this mission involves everything that I do as an employee. I understand that my conversations with kids that battle prejudice and systemic racism are important. I understand informing kids about the realities of heavy handed concepts like racism is important. I understand that reading a book to a third grader and stressing the importance of the desire for books and reading are vital to the success of their future. I understand that my consistency in a young black boy’s life, who may not have the luxury of having a father or a father figure and whose own father may have been ripped away from him by the severe system of mass incarceration, adds progress to the well-being of his life. I understand that I am a part of hope at The Department of Social Change.

Hope: the expectancy and the desire for something to happen or change. With events like Charleston, South Carolina it’s easy to lose hope in anything changing. It’s easy to sit here in Columbus, Ohio and think that what I do doesn’t make any difference in Charleston. It’s easy to sit idle and numb as the systems of this world take jabs at our guts and carve our hearts. Hope seems nearly inappropriate in the face of the open lacerations of a nation, but hope is the only appropriate and just reaction to an open wound. While my own personal hope is not in the systems of this world or man, I understand that I, as one man, make a difference. And isn’t that what we all desire, change? Real tangible change that we can see but if we don’t see we still hope for. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr. “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.” I know that there is so much to be done. I know that there is so much to continue to hope for, and continue we will. Continue we will.

1 Year Gone, 1 Year Left

It has been one year since I started working with the kids at Trevitt Elementary through BCEC. As a junior in college, I only have one more year with these kids and BCEC. We have accomplished so much this past year and fought so hard to do right by these kids. Yet, there is still so far to go until some of these kids are no longer living in poverty, testing inferiorly, emotionally distressed, and going hungry.

 

So what did we do this year? We did science experiments such as making slime, trying to squeeze as many water droplets on a penny as possible, dissolving eggshells in vinegar, and extracting DNA from strawberries. We celebrated many holidays, from the Fourth of July to Martin Luther King Day to Christmas. We made posters about bullying, important historical figures, body systems, American history, and animals. We practiced and practiced for standardized tests by reading passages of poetry, nonfiction, history and nature. We made multiplication flash cards, solved problems with fractions and learned how to divide. We learned how to write an essay and what an adjective was. We learned how to deal with situations that hurt our feelings, such as when someone hits you or calls you a bad name. We learned how and why we should respect others. We learned how to play with each other and how to be friends with others of all genders, ages, and races.

 

Trevitt is a failing school (both academically and behaviorally), and it is a huge problem that many have been trying to solve. However, I honestly do not see an improvement in the school as a whole. Elementary kids (remember, they are 5-11 years old) are being suspended for days at a time, and no effort is made to prevent future problems. Violence is often seen as the only way to solve problems, and kids don’t know how to self-regulate. There are staff members at Trevitt that I absolutely appreciate and enjoy corresponding with. But there are those that I have my differences with. When we first started at Trevitt, we were placed in the library. My first thought was “Great! Now when the kids are done with their work, they can grab a book off the shelf and practice reading.” Nope. Kids are not allowed to even touch the books, let alone read them. The reasoning? These kids will vandalize, steal, or lose these books. I obviously am not going to name names, but there are multiple adults at Trevitt who treat these students like criminals and give them labels without being willing to change them. So the kids at Trevitt are failing their reading tests, but they are yelled at for reading the books in the library? That makes perfect sense. I know that I am not perfect either, and I realize that I have only been at the school for a year and I am not there everyday. But being there has made me realize that these types problems are not cause by one or two factors. They are caused by neglect, poor nutrition, inadequate administration, biases, politics, laziness, inattention, and pride. The one thing I was not expecting to do at the school (and still have trouble wrapping my head around) is playing politics with adults. I cannot tell you how many times staff has gotten offended or their pride has been wounded, and that has hindered the way that kids get treated. In order to do my job, I have found that I not only have to cater to the children, but the adults as well. But shouldn’t our first and only reason for doing everything be to better the lives of these kids?

 

These kids have come a long way, but they have such a long road ahead of them. All we can do is fight for their right to have an equal education, a stable household, nutritious food to eat, proper clothes to wear, and emotional health. A couple of months ago, in correspondence with one of my co-workers, he ended his email with the quote “Keep fighting the good fight.” It just so happened that that week was one of the toughest at Trevitt and I was having a really hard time moving past the challenges I faced that week. We weren’t even talking about my challenges but it just happened to be exactly what I needed to hear. These 5 words were enough for me to instantly feel more encouraged and put things into perspective. The work that every single one of us does is truly a FIGHT. It is a fight against those who do not share our passion and who actively work to hinder us. It is a fight for those who are not strong enough to fight for themselves. It is exhausting and tiring and frustrating and heartbreaking. But is also enlightening, empowering, and life-changing. To witness firsthand that you are making a change in the lives of others is a feeling that is priceless and so encouraging. It is a GOOD fight. And there is nothing else I would rather do.

Volunteer Experiences Part III

Rachael Himes

My name is Rachael Himes, I am a first year here at The Ohio State University and I have been volunteering at Isabelle Ridgway since the beginning of second semester. My experience has been great and I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with the patients and be included in the creative projects, games and events that Daniele schedules. Being a volunteer at a rehabilitation center in my home town drove me to continue working with geriatric patients here in Columbus and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to do this sort of work through my school instead of independently. Working with other volunteers that have a genuine interest in working with these patients is enriching and enhances the experience for not just the residents in the nursing home but for other volunteers as well. Though we have only worked together a short few months, I would consider the people I volunteer with my friends and that in itself makes the experience more positive.

Daniele, our program leader, has been very accommodating throughout the semester and has put in more effort than we could ever ask for. I am glad to have a caring organizer and to know that she puts 100% effort into the cause we volunteer for. I have had such a great experience that I would most definitely recommend others to join in this program and to help bring awareness to the community. The more volunteers we receive, the better ratio of volunteer to residents we can achieve and the happier the patients become. I would hope anyone with a passion for spreading happiness and assisting in brightening the day of those within the community would reach out and join our volunteering team.

 

 

Ally Brady

I found BCEC while attending a mandatory First Year Success Series, and words can not describe how grateful I am to be involved in such an inspiring organization. It was just chance that landed me working at Isabelle Ridgway Care Center. I had originally signed up for one of the after school programs, but since those were all full, I saw openings in this program and took them for volunteer experience. Although working at the care center isn’t exactly what I expected, it is the most fulfilling part of my week. In Isabelle, the patients vary in age, they vary in degree of disability, and my personal favorite, they very in personality. I have had the privilege to work with all of these different people, and they make my week every time I go. Every Thursday from 6 to 8, a group of volunteers and I coordinate and participate in fun activities to keep the residents involved. We play all sorts of games, make crafts, and even dance along to music. The whole experience is just a break from the stress of school and provides an escape from the real world. This escape even has it’s own entertainment because these residents are all such characters. From working at Isabelle, I have learned about some amazing people, and I have also learned a few things about myself.

Going to the care center on a regular basis has allowed me to build relationships with the residents that I would have never experienced had I chosen not to volunteer. It is so important that we volunteers are consistent in going because some of the residents don’t have family or friends to keep them company. Our presence twice a week gives them something fun to break the cycle of living at the care center. It is my responsibility to be there for these people, even if I have other stuff do to because, in the end, they are my top priority. I have grown to really care for these residents, and when the school year is done, it’ll be sad not seeing them every week. Volunteering at Isabelle has also taught me patience along with responsibility. It is somewhat tedious working with the residents who don’t remember everything or aren’t as sharp as they once were. Even though it’s a little more work, it is so worth it to be able to see the smile that I can bring. Being at Isabelle Ridgway Care Center is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had since coming to Ohio State.

 

Jennifer L

Throughout my weekly volunteering at Isabelle Ridgway Care Center, I have developed strong friendships not only with the residents, but also the other volunteers. It’s been awesome to watch the personalities of some of the residents develop over the course of the semester. I personally connected with one of the residents during a game of corn hole. She started by telling me how she had just been released from the hospital following a surgery, and then we got into discussing the surgeries and hospitalizations she has had. Through these discussions we were able to connect over our similarities in procedures and hospitalizations. Another part of volunteering that I really enjoyed was watching the residents get so into the activities. One specific activity that caused this was the balloon activity. Two bags worth of balloons were blown up and placed on the table. The residents all sat around the table and one the count of three they all started hitting the balloons to keep them off of the ground or the table. Residents started hitting them at each other and at the volunteers, it somewhat turned into a simplified dodge ball game with balloons. I’ve never seen the residents laugh that hard. I always have a great time when I’m volunteering at Isabelle, and the residents and other volunteers never fail to make me laugh.

Volunteer Experiences Part II

Grace R

If I had to describe my experience at Isabelle, I would say that it has been colorful. Before I was a regular volunteer, I had stepped foot into a senior center no more than five times in my life. My expectations of the site, our activities, and the other people serving with was very minimal. I have been blown away by my experience; I never knew that there was such a lively population of people hiding in the gem that is Isabelle. Each week has brought new faces, new crafts, and activities and always new one-liners from our “regular” residents. Before this experience, I never considered myself to be drawn to the senior population, but these residents have captured my heart. I have heard stories of loss and of love, I have seen the residents weep at the thought of our dedication and commitment to them, I have seen friendships form and I have seen eyes brightened each and every week I am there. The residents and the activities have been only half of my experience, however. The other half has been the people that I am surrounded by during the weekly visits. I have met a site leader and other volunteers who have a passion and a love for serving others. I am moved, challenged and encouraged each and every day by these people. I have seen myself grow up and learn what a commitment to someone else means. My site leader has taught me that although every week isn’t always a party or the best day of my life, it isn’t about me and these residents depend on us. This responsibility has given me tools that I use in several other aspects of my life. I can never say thank you enough for all this program has given me. Leaving Isabelle at the end of the semester will be very sad, but I will have an unsurpassable amount of joy knowing that I was able to make a difference in the lives of the residents I spent my time with week in and week out.

 

Amanda Champa

My experience at Isabelle Ridgway Care Center has been really fun so far. I have met some really great people whom I have made unforgettable memories with. Every week I look forward to seeing everyone and putting a smile on their faces. Even though most of the residents are older, they don’t let that bring them down! They are all teens at heart. We do different things every week such as bingo, corn hole, holiday parties, balloon games, make pancakes, and play racing games. We have all formed strong bonds with one another and are excited to see each other every week. We make them laugh and they make us laugh. It makes me feel great when they say things like, “I really appreciate all of you coming”, “I love all of you, you are all so sweet and kind” and “We love when you come, can’t wait to see you next week!” Their smiles make me smile. I have learned a lot from this experience and I look forward to the next few weeks with them. I am going to miss seeing and hanging out with them once summer comes. I am very thankful for this opportunity and would suggest Isabelle to anyone. More people should volunteer, because you never know who could use your help or just needs a friend.

Volunteer Experiences

Ryan C

My time at the Isabelle Ridgway Care Center, albeit short, has actually been a very positive experience so far. Coming in, I really didn’t expect the range of diversity that the residents at the home offer. Interacting with residents who are suffering from illnesses from either old age or misfortune, who generally hold a positive attitude, has been awesome to experience. Honestly, it is still a little unsettling for me to try and adjust to their lifestyle, because of the help they need to do certain things, but it also humbles me to realize how privileged I am to be able to live my life without assistance. Overall, Isabelle has been a solid experience, I hope to continue to get to know the people there, and make their lives a little better, as much as I can.

 

Willie L

I really enjoyed working with the residents at Isabelle. It definitely gave me experiences that I never had before. Both of my mother parents were deceased before I was born; so I never had the opportunity to spend time with older people like I do now. There has never been a day when I didn’t look forward to participating with the residents. They are always entertaining and you never knew what was going to happen; they are full of surprises. I remember times when I was having a bad day and I would go volunteer and leave with a smile on my face. We even shared tears of joy together. They were definitely like the grandparents that I never had. Even though the semester is coming to an end I will always have the memories we shared together.

 

Ziare S

I am enjoying my experience at Isabelle. I love when we are playing games with the elderly because you can see the excitement on their faces. Also, when we do the different activities, we are learning their likes and dislikes.

 

Selina

As a freshman at Ohio State University looking for an opportunity to get involved and volunteer in Columbus, Isabelle Ridgway Care Center has been the perfect place for me. Thus far I have enjoyed interacting with fellow volunteers and patients at the Care Center. I cherish the opportunity to bring joy to the patients, and brighten their day through conversations and various activities. These small gestures let the patients know that someone cares about them. Their smiles and laughter linger in my mind days afterward. I am proud to have the opportunity to give back to a city that is now my “home away from home” and I look forward to continuing my volunteerism at the Care Center.

Poem

 

Promise

Watching the horizon as the sunrises

Birds are chirping as the light is shining

Into your eyes

It’s blinding

But such a beautiful scene

Imagining that the world is at your disposal

Perhaps it’s a proposal

That suggests that so much has been done and so much more is left to do

That there’s no reason to feel blue

Things are looking up

The cup is half full, not empty

There’s plenty of time

Despite what u may think you are still in your prime

Fully capable of living life to the fullest

Like a pulpit

You rise above your surroundings

It’s astounding

Rebounding from that dark place

Escaping like an untied shoelace

There’s a difference between living and existing

One is fibbing and the other is winning

To be honest

You all have much promise

So I must pay homage

-Anonymous

No Success Without Passion

Currently, I am suffering through the experience of being a college freshman at one of the largest universities in the country. This brings with it many challenges, such as finding what I am passionate about and how I want to spend my time. It is a struggle in itself staying focused at a school like The Ohio State University, and determining what career I want to go into is another struggle many freshman like myself face.

Luckily for me, I found Dr. Patty and BCEC early in my college experience. She scooped me up like a momma bird scoops a baby chick, and I am all the better for it. After taking her class, “Discovering Poverty through Leadership and Civic Engagement”, I found that one of my biggest motivators and passions is service. This set in motion a string of events that have had an immeasurable impact on my life.

First, I started working in Isabelle Ridgway Care Center, a place that takes care of people who cannot take care of themselves, whether it be because of old age, a car accident, or another obstacle. The experiences that I have gained from my time spent there have changed me into a much different man than I was when I came here, and the impact I have on the lives of the residents is something I have much more appreciation for now than I ever would have before.

I also now co-coordinate the A Day in the Life of a Buckeye program, which has also widened my appreciation of my own high school and college-search experience, while also helping me to grow and become more responsible as a student and as a man. I’ve learned that one of the largest problems high school kids face isn’t their lack of motivation or laziness, but the prevalence of adults failing children. I’ve been able to solidify some of my beliefs and opinions, one of which is that it is our job to raise, educate, and take care of our students and children in order to create the best world possible.

All in all, BCEC has been the single most impactful organization that I have joined, and experience that I have gone through since I have been in college. I am proud of the person I am today in a large part because of this group and the things I have learned about myself and how the world works. Hopefully, the coming years hold even more growth and enlightenment for me.