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Volunteerism, Community Engagement, And Service Learning
The current world has a mild of non-governmental organizations, as well as some governmental organizations formed for the purpose of providing support to those in need. Millions of people put their lives on the line to join these organizations and communal ventures, thinking that they are going to help. However, as time progress, there are questions on the genuinity of these acts. Therefore, the question is changing as Rachel Naomi Remen in the writing "In the Service of Life" says; it is not how I can help, rather it should be how I could serve. This raises three key factors of debate in the communal service organizations and works. These include aspects of volunteerism, community engagement and service learning. These further comprise the subjects of helping, fixing and serving, as included in the topics of discussion.
Reflecting on the practices and acts of volunteerism, community engagement and service learning, it is essential to understand the distinctions between service, fixing and helping. In helping, the act consists of two perspectives. While helping is what most people engaging in community service perceive to be engaging in, most of them in reality mean a very different thing (Rachel 1). Most people perceive helping as an act of self-will that does not center the benefits on it, but the recipient. However, this is not true as helping has the connotation of inequality among the groups. Helping involves inequality as the relationship is unequal. It entails using the strength the helper has to provide support and assistance to the recipient of the acts of help. Notably, helping is a draining act as the helper always gives while the recipient never gives back, a scenario that creates the feeling of inferiority verses superiority complex. When the person is attentive to the activity they are executing, they always feel that the recipient is needier and thus vulnerable. Therefore, in most cases, the help inadvertently takes away more from the recipients than it is giving them. Consequently, the effect of giving help to the patient may become diminishing self-esteem, a lower sense of worth, diminishing integrity and wholeness. Therefore, helping creates awareness of ourselves, as whether we are stronger and the others are needy. It draws strength from our own engagements; thus, it has limitations. Help has its limits within the strength of the helper as a person cannot help in what they do not have the strength to help.
In view of fixing, this act involves the perception of something broken. Like helping, fixing draws strength from the activities that an individual can execute. Therefore, fixing only features those with the strength that the person in need requires. The brokenness of the person is what drives the people fixing the problem to act. In fixing the challenges that others face, there is the creation of inequality feeling (Rachel 1). Additionally, it does not present the wholeness in the recipient, as well as, the integrity of life in them. Fixing is not a collaborative practice as it can be a willing action, or forced from circumstances. Therefore, there is always a distance separating the people fixing the challenges and those they are fixing. Additionally, fixing is more judgmental that voluntary. This judgmental factor creates the distance and disconnection among the parties involved. This disconnection difference creates a moral distance in which the people cannot serve. Therefore, fixing, in comparison to serving, it differs from the aspect that rendering service only happens when there is a profound connection between the parties. Service is because it is holy and not broken (Paul 2).
Servicing is a holistic act of commission by the individual offering the service. Service has its foundation in the sacred nature of life. The mystery of holiness and integrity of life is what drives the actions that people undertake to assist others through their helping hand. Service has an unknown purpose, and thus, when people serve they do so because they belong to life and it is their purpose to serve. From the perspective of service, the society is one connected long feature that incorporates billions of people across the globe. An action that involves and affects different people in the society concerns many people in the entire world. The balance of peace and co-existence, equality and goodwill, are factors of the whole world. Therefore, service rendered to those in need based on the drive of serving others is a self will decision of giving. It does not base its arguments on the aspect of inequality or brokenness as the acts of helping and fixing do. Service is from the perception of life as a whole. Thus, people can serve without fixing and helping, whereas helping and fixing does not necessarily have to be acts of serving. Serving does not center on the strengths of the individual, but on the aspect of both parties gaining from the engagement. Serving renews the strength of the person offering the service, as well as, rejuvenates the self-esteem and integrity of the recipient of the action (Rachel 1). It makes better the society without boasting of its achievements and strengths. Fixing and helping drain the strength of the individual and have limitations; however, serving has neither end nor limitation; it is priceless and fulfilling. Service serves others as well as us.
Volunteering is an act of self will to give and offer support to those in need of help. Over the years, various governments and bodies continued to establish organizations that purpose to provide volunteering platforms and programs for people. This is what Ivan Illich, an Australian philosopher, in one of his speeches; "To Hell with Good Intentions" refers to when addressing the audience that consisted volunteers. In writing this speech, he knew well that the audience consisted of American volunteers, and based his findings from the association of the volunteers in Mexico. He made the observation that most of the volunteer programs and groups serving from America contained middle class American people. Therefore, he argued that, in these programs, the effect was that, one cannot give more than they have. Thus, his perception of the volunteer programs was that they were there trying to help and fix the challenges that the Mexicans were facing while themselves had their own challenges to face. He indicates that the volunteers were only giving to the Mexicans the American middle class life (Ivan 1). He pleads with them to stop the volunteering programs. He also notes that the volunteer programs from the Americans to the developing nation had consequential benefits to America. For instance, the aid programs that volunteer service to the countries in need opened trade ties between the country and America, or facilitated various privileges, such as the priority in exploring natural resources by the Americans. Therefore, he notes that the authenticity of these volunteer programs is not service, but rather helping and fixing. They have the perception of drawing benefits from these nations receiving the aid while benefiting them. The volunteer programs that Illich notes in this speech that, as the effects of helping and fixing are worsening the recipients instead of contributing to their progress. He thus writes, inviting the so-called volunteers to come and blend in, enjoy the spectacular aspects of Mexico, travel and study, but not claim to help.
From this speech by Illich, it defines the act of volunteerism differently from the expectations of those who have a genuine heart of service. Volunteerism is not an act that has the focal point of helping or fixing, but that of service (Ivan 1). Volunteerism entails connecting with those in need, and serving diligently and wholly giving oneself to the community for service. However, this is not the case as various scholars and writers indicate a different perspective. Volunteerism is a form of community engagement that intends to make a positive contribution to the progress of the society. Community engagement, also called civic engagement is an act that seeks to establish skills and social cohesion that drive the society towards better social, political and democratic stability (Hicks 1). Therefore, in establishing the activities of and expectations of volunteering persons, it is essential to understand the implications and expectations of service in the community.
Initially, volunteerism was an activity that involved the aging people, who committed to community service as an act of good will. However, today the youth are also volunteering in large numbers, in their endeavor, to make society a better place. Unfortunately, it is worrying that most young people are not seeing the connection between volunteering and community engagement. Both of these activities are civic action measures. This similarity makes them inseparable. Volunteerism and community engagement are acts of service and this makes them similar. Another aspect of civic action is service learning. Service learning includes the activity of learning the factors involved in serving and other subjects related to service. Therefore, service learning, in comparison to volunteerism and community engagement, differ in that service learning does not necessarily imply that…[continue]
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