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Service Learning: Knowledge and Lessons from A Volunteering Experience

Updated on April 19, 2012

Service Learning Reflection

My service learning project was working with people who had little to no computer experience and my task was to make them knowledgeable in MS Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint, as well as teaching them how to create a resume and use the internet for job searches and applications. I provided one on one and group classes to each these skills alongside a trainer from the Urban League.

I didn’t realize how many people were not computer literate in my community, I knew it was a global issue but I didn’t realize how many people where I live were affected by it. I learned that you can’t judge a person’s computer knowledge based on appearance or age because some of the least likely people are very computer illiterate. I also learned that people are more receptive to help if you are friendly and understanding of their lack of ability and if you are willing to help them overcome it.

I worked with the Urban League of Greater Madison. The Urban League’s mission is to eliminate social and economic barriers for African Americans, other people of color, and the economically disadvantaged in Dane County by transforming our community into a place of opportunity, personal and professional growth, prosperity, and success for everyone. I think it is a wonderful place and they have a lot of really good programs to help those in need gain the skills necessary to support them selves financially and they work with many other agencies to provide community support.

I chose to work with this issue because I have a vast understanding of computers and the particular software that was being taught and I thought it would be a good lesson in patience for me, as I usually have no tolerance for people who aren’t as intelligent as me. I definitely saw a need that I could help fulfill if I could get past my own intolerance and irritability.

This Project definitely helped me realize that by working together we can accomplish much more than we can on our own and that it feels good to be a part of something bigger than you. It also showed me how valuable I am to the global community.It is important because if we all shared our knowledge with those that are less informed we can make better decisions as a community and have more productive citizens. I also worked with people from a diverse array of ethnic backgrounds and upbringing. Some people were raised with a silver spoon and now that they are on their own they are forced to seek help, some were raised in an inner city environment and didn’t have access to the knowledge and some have been in prison and were never able to learn these things. Many of the people were working class citizens who were unemployed due to the economy and are having to learn new skills to try to find any time of employment.

The goals of this project were to teach a class of people with all different computer experience levels how to write a resume and perform basic functions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint as they are utilized in a business setting. My main goal was to teach myself patience because normally I wouldn’t take the time to help someone because I would get frustrated if the person didn’t catch on right away.

This project relates to our class discussion and lessons because I got to experience all different types of people with different backgrounds and education working towards a common goal of becoming a productive citizen. I feel the biggest correlation between this project and the course material is that the members of the class had to essentially become their own community by putting aside differences that may have prevented them from even speaking in other circumstances. They had to help each other along the way. If one person was falling behind or missed class the whole group felt the effects.

My project helps strengthen the global community because it provides necessary skills to disadvantaged people who would not normally have had access and it fosters growth of relationships between people who would not have otherwise interacted on such an intimate level.

I learned not to judge people by appearance and words, but rather by their actions because often people’s words betray their actions. As much as some of the people involved in this project would not like to admit they are very capable and intelligent, but they were never given an opportunity to shine and showcase their talents or they were told they wouldn’t be anything but an inmate or worthless or that they would never be great.

I wouldn’t have done anything differently; this program has been around for many years it works like a well oiled machine. There is a group learning element and it has allowances for individualized attention. The material being taught is the basic knowledge needed to perform business tasks with emphasis on an office environment.

After participating in this project I now know that I shouldn’t underestimate people because when faced with adversity people can adapt and learn very quickly. I also learned that in an environment where a person feels comfortable a community of support will form and people that would normally not give each other the time of day will work to accomplish a group goal.

This project definitely opened my eyes about my community because prior to working with some of the people I assumed that everyone was as selfish as I was and that they were only concerned with their own goals and needs but I now see people are more willing to help than I expected.

My communication has definitely changed because now instead of thinking that everyone is below me in intellect I talk to people as equals and I have become better at listening to other people’s problems and issues instead of only worrying about myself.

I can definitely use the experience I gained with the Urban League in any employer setting because the most important things I learned were patience and humility, and to no underestimate people’s abilities.

I have been a volunteer for many years at many different venues and I always learn something new and different each time so I definitely will continue to volunteer not just for myself but for the greater good.


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