It’s the beginning of finals week, and I have the opportunity to read my students’ final reflections as part of the evaluation process that wraps up the Portland State University Capstone courses that I teach. The end of each term is bittersweet. We have always accomplished a lot, but we have also just started to gel, and it’s hard to see such bright thinkers, teachers, mentors, and tutors go. Katlynn’s reflection struck me as particularly thoughtful and beautifully written. I hope it inspires you (as it has inspired me) to do the little things (often) and the big things (as much as possible) to support kids and schools. Her reflection appears in teal below:
It was amazing to see all of the projects presented in class this week and finish my project with Aaron. I always enjoy the wrap up of classes, drawing on all of the concepts and connecting what I learned conceptually with what I learned experientially. I have always been strongly interested in service and in social issues and the importance of service. I’ve always wanted to be involved in community service, having a goal of being in the Peace Corps since I was in third grade.
Since third grade I have realized that, though an amazing program, the Peace Corps does not address the immediate community. The idea of involvement within one’s own community has become something that is very important to me. While I still am involved in service that isn’t in my own community, I always choose communities that I am connected with or familiar with, such as the spring break service trip that I am taking to San Francisco, where I have worked during the summer for the past two years.
Before this class I was not very aware of the small things that I could do right here and the impact that they make. I have always envisioned that in order to do something worthwhile or something that actually makes a difference it has to be big, like the Peace Corps. This mentality is common, but prevents many people from doing anything at all.
I haven’t done anything grand. I haven’t traveled to another country or lived in a village to help starving children. I haven’t left my life for two years to give myself and my time to helping others. Even though I haven’t done any of these things, I have made a difference. I have talked with students, I have helped them, I have explained things to them, I have answered their questions and listened to their stories. These things are just as important as anything else that I could have done. These students are equally important as starving children in Africa or South America, and my time is equally as valuable in either place.
It’s said often, but not taken to heart, that every little thing counts. I finally understood what that means in actions. I felt that little bit, that small effort count for something. I see the accumulation of all of our small parts making a tremendous difference at PYB and the other organizations that our class is involved in. I see lifetimes of services and involvements created from the realization that these small actions produce change just the same, if not more, than large scale actions.
I feel confident in the differences that I have made, not just within the people that I am working with in the community, but within myself to be a person who can educate people on these same matters, and inform people about the differences that they can make, easily.