To Serve: Contribute or Conduce

no picture Sarah Osborne
Se registró el día 12 de junio de 2013
  • 1 Artículo

Serve: to contribute or conduce.
This may be double-dipping, but it has been a minute since my last posting…
As I continued to work on my Americorps application for next year I kept putting off the ‘Motivational Statement’ section. It posed the question, “Why do you want to serve?” I’ve been asked this question in a multitude of ways, and I struggled to find my voice. How could I spice up the generic, mundane, bland answers I usually give?
Because it’s what my parents taught me.
Because it’s important to the world.

Because I enjoy giving back to community.
Because I like working with like-minded people
Because I liked the feeling I got after {insert heartwarming story}...
Because it’s what I learned in Sunday school and Mission Trips

Instead, this time, I hoped to reveal something about my character, rather than just focus on the fact that serving is something that I want. In my case, service is not the end goal. These volunteer programs that I am participating in are not about my experience. They are not about me. They are about the communities that I am serving in. Sure, I’m learning new skills, gaining knowledge, and earning a little self- gratification, but that is only a small portion of service. Mine and everyone else's. Although others may choose to see the physical labor, the change they’ve made, or the impact that they have created. I would like to view my years of service as how I am living my life. I serve because I cannot see another option. It is where I fit, where I am comfortable. Service should be commonplace. I wonder if that came off as 'motivational'….

"…Service is inherent. It is the foundation by which we should live our lives. Community should be based on human interaction: a smile, a handshake, a hug, sharing a meal, building a house, painting a room, storytelling, sharing experience, and listening. Service is about both doing and being. Doing the work, making something, and seeing physical results are important, but service is also about being present in those moments. At times struggle with the common definition of service. All too often it is viewed as a gift, a bestowal. Service can also be more self- gratifying then actually helpful. The easiest forms of service are the bandages that provide quick fixes. Service should go deeper, towards the root of the problem. I am drawn toward the Americorps program because I not only want to participate in service, I also want to participate in and form a place in the community where I am serving. It may sound naïve, and possibly a little far-fetched, but I believe a bond and connection can be built and maintained in only a year’s time. Right now, I work with the Young Adult Volunteer Program through the Presbyterian Church, where we spend one year living in community and working around our placement sites. After only five months in Tucson, I already feel connected. Friendships and working relationships have been formed, as well as an affinity for this place. I work for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, with the Farmers’ Market Consignment Coordinator and the Garden Team. Both these positions afford me the luxury of meeting new people, learning new skills, and connecting with the greater Tucson area. Each week at the Farmers’ markets I see the familiar faces of the vendors and customers, I bond with those who buy our produce by asking how they use certain vegetables, especially the local and native plants. I give recommendations for how to choose certain produce, if asked. In these quick, weekly interactions, I have created a mental Rolodex, so the following week I ask how the recipe turned out or how they enjoyed the duck eggs. With the garden team I spend time with volunteers and homeowners digging garden beds in the backyards of Co-op members. We share stories about gardening mishaps, composting tips, our favorite things to grow and to eat. We talk about heat, exhaustion, where we are from, our families, our visions about the world, politics, and even religion. Service is creating connections. My service is opening my mind, my eyes, my ears, and my heart to others. I focus on working in tandem with people, learning alongside my community, growing and gaining experiences as we participate together. An Americorps year would provide me with another way to experience a community and further my life in service."

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