Last week, the SEEDS project was excited to welcome a service learning group from New York University at the University of Richmond for an evening of good conversation and brainstorming. The NYU group is a much larger student organization that organizes several service trips of ten people each per year that reaches about 260 students.
We found a common emphasis on “going with the flow” and regular reflection sessions to help understand and process the living conditions, injustices, and policies that we encounter while engaging in service learning. It was fun to hear about our home city of Richmond from the students from NYU: aside from serving, they were able to explore Carytown.
The group spent time working at Camp Baker, which is a camp for children with special needs. Jennifer said that the experience helped her “see the world differently- most people shy away from individuals with special needs: I used to do that. Then I came to Camp Baker and have returned for my second time, I cannot picture myself doing anything else, what I do makes people happier.” Although SEEDS is not working with special needs groups (yet!) we feel similarly changed by our experiences. Once one realizes how happy service makes others, it is nearly impossible to return to a life sheltered from the great needs that this world faces.
It is safe to say that both SEEDS and the NYU gruop learned from the experience. Miki beautifully articulated her feelings at the end of the evening: “I have a new perspective on giving back and a mindset that we will work for a community and achieve something by the end of the day- yet the most valuable part of service is sitting and listening to the stories of people we serve and then sharing them at home.”