Volunteering at College Gardens has been so enlightening for the duration of the semester. It was a big learning experience for me because it was unlike anything I had done before. Throughout the semester I created bonds with these kids that took some time. At first, the kids were hesitant because they did not know anything about me, nor I about them. Towards the end they became more respectful and more willing to listen. There were still challenges because around homework time the kids never seemed to have homework. On the slim chance they did have homework, they never wanted to do it and became off task very easily. Once they got off-task it was a long process trying to get them back on track. They loved to play games and be interactive when we went outside to play.
The site leaders were extremely helpful and willing to talk to the kids if there were any issues. If issues did arise they were quick to step in and diffuse the situation. The behavioral issues were a major problem that is bigger than what College Gardens can solve. A site leader has said that while the kids show respect at the site, at school it is a different story. They can be extremely disrespectful at school, at the site however, disrespect is not tolerated. To gain respect from the kids, you need to respect them too. The site is different in the regard that the problems faced in the real world don’t seem to exist. The kids get to be kids and have fun. The kids are bright already, they just need the encouragement from others.The site really needs more funding, but that is difficult to get when the kids don’t come regularly and they don’t promote the free program in schools. The schools offer after school programs too but they are not free, so they don’t allow programs that are free to be promoted.
As much as I was involved, I wish I was able to go more than one day a week so I could have had better relationships with the kids. This work changed the way I think about activism because activism to me is working on something you are passionate about to bring about change. I hope in some way to change the lives of these kids, to encourage them to do well in school and achieve their dreams. I hope they get into the schools they want and reach their goals.
I learned that activism comes in all sizes and in all aspects of life. You don’t have to march or protest in big crowds, you could refuse to go to certain restaurants or movie theaters because of what they have done or what they stand for. Activism is unique and cannot and should not be pinned down to one basic definition. At the start of this class I thought activism was mainly protesting and marching to bring about change, but it is so much more. It is having connections, networking, and reaching out to make change.