For my activist project I decided to get involved in Service Learning. One of the most important questions I had to answer for the rest of the class was whether Service Learning was a true form of activism. Activism is defined by the ability to accomplish social or political change. Well, many people may think that doing Service Learning is not a form of activism because one may not be actually achieving a goal in order to change society. However, I believe that my work this semester was extremely influential and positive for the community and for myself.
In February I started volunteering at Esperanza Center in Baltimore, tutoring English to immigrants who recently moved to the United States. It was an extremely rewarding experience as I myself migrated to the United States from Argentina when I was a teenager. I had sat on the other side of the table, and now it was my turn to give back to my community and ease their integration process into the American society. During my Service Learning I met immigrants who were an inspiration to me, as they were extremely eager to keep on learning after working long hours (as long as twelve hour shifts) and still reporting to Esperanza three times a week, sometimes even bringing their children along because they did not have anyone at home to care for them.
On the other hand, I decided to volunteer at Old Court Middle School in Baltimore to help out my friend, who was a first year Spanish teacher and needed a lot of help creating lesson plans for his classes and constantly come up with new teaching methods to keep their classroom involved in the work. Although this was not part of the Service Learning program, I put a lot of effort and time into teaching because it would provide me with some of the experience that I needed to be able to find a job as a Spanish teacher after graduation. Things worked out for the best and I am now working for Anne Arundel Public School system at MacArthur Middle School located in Fort Mead Military Base (and I have not yet graduated).
Although my project did not involve actively fighting against political forces, I do believe I contributed to my community (the Latino community) and also helped my own future by contributed as little as 3 hours a week to helping a fellow teacher set up lesson plans. At Esperanza I learned that my time there mattered to the students because I was contributing to their learning and making their life just a tad bit easier. Latinos face a lot of discrimination in this country, and many don’t take into account the hard work and dedication that they contribute to the growth of the country. My biggest reward was seeing the students smile when they got the right answer, and knowing that I was able to provide a comfortable environment for them and their families after long days of work. I had been there, I know the feeling of having a person whom you feel comfortable talking to at the end of the day, and I was one of those people with whom they felt at ease.