Wednesday, September 23, 2009

From the Classroom to the Community..

BACK TO THE CLASSROOM: Last week I was invited to speak in a class about the beauty of service, and opportunities that students can find at UM. Most of the students looked at me like I was crazy(teachers of mine, i'm sure you've seen this look from me at some point in your career). I wasn't sure if I captured any of their interest outside of their required service hours. It was tough to judge what inspired them and what just went over their heads considering all of them gave me blank stares. I also caught half of them studying for the quiz they had next (something I was g
uilty of on many occasions). I tried being engaging by asking questions but most of them had zero desire to speak up. Many of them did end up seeking out service opportunities, so it was successful. It also helped me define why I am in the service field, and how I got here. I traced it back to the car wash I helped arrange after 9/11 in high school, and the fast I did to raise money for Haiti (See Mr. Deal your persuasion techniques weren't lost on me) . I hadn't realized how much these things made an impression on me until I really traced the origin of my service days.

FOOD STAMPS, THE BEGINNING OF A HEALTHY DIET: I received my food stamps in the mail the other day, good times. I couldn't believe how relieved I felt! It's a load off to have some help with food, and the ability to really buy healthy food. I've added fancy foods to my grocery list. That night my roommates and I went to get my first food stamp use and we bought ice cream, gingerale, and jelly beans. I promise my blog will not include a list of every item I purchase each time I use my food stamps, this time it just serves a purpose. It struck up conversation between us (all Americorps members) about what people experiencing poverty should be able to purchase, and whether or not sweet foods should be included. Then we thought about why sweets should only be a luxury for the rich, and if they should be sold at all.. We got distracted by the deliciously flavored jelly beans and the brisk fall evening, but it was certainly an interesting topic to think about. It posed another topic regarding class division that i've thought about now that i'm living at the poverty line.

TREMONT STREET BED AND BREAKFAST: On a lighter, less reflective note i've spent my week preparing for the Building Engaged Citizens conference coming up this weekend. Not only am I fan of the name, because its pretty powerful, i'm excited to get to meet all Campus Compact members and facilitate a few training sessions. It has been a lot of work, and much of the responsibility of planning and compiling resources for this training has fallen on me. When you live with 3 other AmeriCorps members (making 6 people in the house total) this also means a house full of service related visitors. This weekend will be even more packed than usual, with a total of 6 extra visitors throughout the weekend. We have turned this into a chance for a pot luck though so that will be a nice change of pace, and we've all come to terms with the fact that our already crazy/chaotic house will take on a bit more character. Overall our Tremont Street house has proven to be quite an ideal living situation. It is a blast having so many roommates with a passion for service yet each with different interests. It has also made meeting people in Missoula a bit easier.

STRUMMING BASS-ICS: The other project i've been up to lately has been developing an after school music program at the Boys and Girls club. I went to visit last week and they have a music room full of acoustic, bass, and electric guitars as well as drums, a piano, and a recording studio. It's a pretty sweet space, and i'm allowed to use any of their resources at any time. My roommate Dan and I spent a few afternoons going around and getting donations for the guitars, tuning and cleaning the instruments, and making the space ready for our lessons. We will be teaching lessons weekly for 12-18 year olds in our own unique style - I have yet to figure out what that means. It will be a great chance for me to play music, work with kids, and get out of the office for a bit. Thanks to Sarah Garnitz (my beloved old roommate from Elon) we have chosen "Strumming Bass-ics" as our name for the lesson - dont worry Sarah you'll get a shout out on our CD sleeve when all of our kids are famous musicians. I'm sure i'll have more stories to report on this weekly. I have a feeling I will be learning more than the kids, but hopefully some pretty sounding tunes will result from our time.

All in all life here is pretty much as busy as it has been anywhere (minus my month of couch sitting in Atlanta this June). I do find myself enjoying evenings without homework to explore different hobbies, sit on the balcony with friends, or go for a bike ride around town.

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