Looking back and reflecting on my past experiences performing service in high school, many great memories come to my mind. I can see the smiles, laughter, joy, and thanks on the faces that I helped. Two of my favorite long-term service projects were helping at a local children’s center in my town and providing a Christmas dinner to the Franciscan Sisters at my high school. My father and one of his good friends started this tradition with the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception at my school ten years ago. I have been participating for eight years now. During the dinner, we serve the Sisters dinner and listen to their many stories about traveling the world, educating, and some hardships from their childhoods. I love listening to their stories because each is different and each one has lived a life full of adventure, joyful times, faithful times, and grief-stricken times. Listening to the Sister’s passion for education made me realize how much education means to me. I began helping out at the Needham Children’s Center, which is a daycare, pre-school, pre-k, and afterschool program targeted towards educating the youth in my town. I would help out in the afternoon, after school. I worked mainly with the preschoolers, helping them with their early developments. I would sit with the kids and read to them. I really loved watching the kids grow over the year and see how my influences helped them grow and learn.
My service projects relate to Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall,” Jill McDonough’s “Accident, Mass. Ave.,” Frances E.W. Harper’s “Learning to Read,” and Peter-Hans Kolvenbach’s “The Service of Faith and Promotion of Justice in Jesuit Higher Education” because each literary work resembles the ability to learn from one another and the situations that surround the subjects.
In Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall” the speaker is telling of the long tradition of the “day we meet to walk the line” (line 13). Walking the line both neighbors mend the wall, which separates their two properties, by replacing the stones that have fallen. Over the many years of this tradition the neighbors have learned how to “make them balance” (line 18). The balance is not only between the stones in the wall but the balance of the relationship that neighbors share. These neighbors have learned how to keep a “balanced” relationship, which in turn results in a positive relationship. “Good Fences make good neighbors” (Line 45). By learning the ways to keeping the wall balanced the neighbors are learning to keep their relationship balanced. They have learned this through each other’s strengths and weaknesses and the experiences they have shared with one another.
The speaker of Jill McDonough’s poem “Accident, Mass. Ave.” recalls an accident she was in with another driver on Mass Ave. in Boston. McDonough states “we both knew, that the thing to do is get out of the car, slam the door as hard as you fucking can and yell things like What the fuck were you thinking?” (lines 10-13). This quote shows how the speaker developed and learned the way to deal with car accidents in Boston, even if it causes another person to become upset or hurt. The speaker has learned to deal with car accidents and react in a certain way from the people around her and the experiences she has been involved in. Towards the end of the poem McDonough realizes that in her situation, it is not best to react is such a harsh way. She learned a new form of communication just by trial and error and by being in a less dramatic situation.
The last two works, Kolvenbach’s “The Service of Faith and the promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education” and Harper’s “Learning to Read,” fit more closely together expressing the ability of “educating the ‘whole person’ intellectually and professionally, psychologically, morally, and spiritually” (Kolvenbach 33). These ideals of the Jesuit’s relate closely to Harper’s “Learning to Read” because the speaker educates and transforms herself by “embracing human reality in order to help make the world a more fitting place” (Kolvenbach 35). The speaker is a slave at the time when education was an escape and granted freedom and independence. The speaker states “Our masters always tried to hide Book learning from our eyes; Knowledge did’nt agree with slavery- ‘Twould make us all too wise” (lines 5-8). This quote shows that the slaves knew the key to freedom was education. They self-taught themselves, “So I got a pair of glasses, and straight to work I went, And never stopped till I could read the hymns and Testament,” (lines 37-40) in order to gain Independence from their masters. The speaker learned how to read, creating new opportunities not only for herself but also for the people that surround her. In order to gain her independence she embraced her “human reality” and educated herself as a “whole person.”
Education is an ability that each person in this world should be granted. Without education there is no chance of progression through a lifetime. There are so many ways in which a person can educate themselves, and others. The easiest form of education is from experience. One must experience the world, their surroundings, and the people that surround them. Education can come simply from a story one tells, or through a car accident, and especially from one’s determination.