Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Inter-community Travel

One of the main things I noticed in this document was how Kolvenbach emphasizes the Jesuit institution’s emphasis on students’ participation in community service. He writes that students at Jesuit universities are encouraged to go out into the community, whether they are tutoring drop-out students, working in soup kitchens, or participating in social demonstrations (35). Through this kind of service, students hopefully will become adults who more aware of their communities. What I noticed here was that going out into the surrounding community becomes a kind of travel for students at Jesuit universities. It is easy to live in a community and only see one part of it. By going out and doing service, students learn about parts of their communities that they have never seen before. As Kolvenbach says, “the students need the poor in order to learn” (37). This idea is especially significant, because it emphasizes that the purpose of community service is not to make the student feel more righteous or morally superior. Kolvenbach says that community service is about creating symbiotic relationships between the student and the community; the student performs a service for their community, and the community gives back by giving the student new experiences.
Community service can also be a form of travel simply in that students may travel to areas or neighborhoods in their communities that they have never been before. Although these areas may be geographically close, they can still be completely foreign to students. For example, at the Tunbridge service learning prep session, we talked about how the school is only a few minute walk away, but most of the Loyola students had never been in the areas in which many the Tunbridge students live. We also learned how this is not completely accidental, as the city government uses one way streets to avoid common traffic flow in these areas. Despite this, these areas are near to the institution, and therefore form part of our community. Service learning encourages us to learn about those areas in our own communities that might be otherwise hidden from us.

                This idea in particular made me think of community service as a form of travel. When someone travels to a place, they pick up parts of that place, and carry them with them as they journey throughout life. By performing community service, students gain experiences that will help shape them into the adults they will become once they leave the university. And as Kolvenbach says, the experience that students gain by reaching out to the parts of their community that may have been hidden to them before will help shape them into “adults of solidarity in the future” (35).

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