For my STEP signature project area, I chose to partake in a Buck-I-Serve trip. Specifically, the Buck-I-Serv trip centered on the Guadalupe center in Immokalee, Florida. During this trip, my group volunteered at the Guadalupe center, which is an early childhood education center, as well as the PACE center, which is an alternative high school for girls. Additionally we also visited the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, to learn more about their mission to fight for the rights and betterment for the working conditions of migrant workers.
I think that in partaking in this particular project, I feel that something that was transformative for me was witnessing not only the effect of service, but also learning more about the harsh realities that migrant workers face, that I may not have thought about or knew about in depth. For instance I learned more about pay abuses that migrant workers face, health issues, and the fair food agreement etc.. I feel this is transformative for me because, it was very informative and eye opening; and its something that I want to share with those around me.
Looking more in-depth at my project experience, volunteering at the Guadalupe Center was transformative for me as well. The facility was very nice, and the children were split into age groups, and different classrooms with different themes. I was placed in a classroom with children ranging from ages 3-4 years old, in the “Sand Dollars” classroom. The children were very kind, playful, always ready to ask me questions about anything and everything. Each classroom had two teachers, and I had appreciated the fact that they were willing to guide us and let us help out in their classrooms. I enjoyed that, the teachers took great care and patience in making sure the children learned their letters and numbers. I also enjoyed the fact that there was a planned schedule with various activities for the children to keep active throughout the day. I loved how they played a game every morning where the children had to say the name of the person sitting next to them, so that everyone knew each others names.
And so throughout the week, I played with the children, helped with setting out lunches, cleaning up after playtime and lunch time, and setting up for nap time as well. I developed a close relationship with the children, and I still remember all their names. And so for me, it was a very rejuvenating experience, and an experience I will never forget.
At the PACE center, I learned that the alternative high school is a school for teens with certain risk factors, whether it be financial or home based concerns, etc.. And so, we played games with the girls and got to know them, and we helped with tutoring and homework as well. I also learned more about their education curriculum, and how create an open environment for the girls to get help and ask questions; and they also rewarded monthly, those who made drastic improvements for the better. One things that was transformative for me however, was learning about their dreams and aspirations after high school. I was very inspired, and hearing their aspirations reminded to not get so caught up and down about my classes sometimes. And to just remember that at the end of they day, i’m doing all of this work because of my goals/aspirations.
Overall, these experiences, helped me to directly see the power of service. I left this trip more informed, rejuvenated, and inspired then when I arrived. And, I will carry these experiences with me, and continue to find other ways that I can continue to serve.