The quote “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” by Mahatma Gandhi seems to be playing a huge role in my life over the past few years.
When I was in middle school and high school I always I had this idea that I would become a nurse. That may have stemmed off the fact that my mother works in the medical field but it was just what I always thought I would be when I grew up. I also grew up in a big family, and my parents had several family friends so there were always children in and out of my home constantly. So it may have been forced but I’ve always chosen a loud room full of children over a quiet room. I just never saw myself becoming a teacher. My senior year of high school I started working for an after school program at the elementary school I attended when I was younger. My first day of work I was placed with kindergarten, and in the mist of all the chaos that the first day of school brings my boss came up to me and handed me a little boys hand and said “he belongs with you, but be careful he runs”. Turns out the little boy has autism and from that moment forward it became my task to watch his every move for the rest of the school year. So through all the melt downs and constantly running across campus to catch him I had realized I formed a bond with this little boy I never saw coming. I was the only one he would listen to and by the end of the year with both knew each other well enough that neither one of us would test each other’s limits.
After taking care of this little boy for a year I realized this was something I wanted to continue to do. Over the past couple of years I have met many more children with different disabilities that have all found themselves a special place in my heart. I’m currently preparing myself to get into the Exceptional Student Education program at FSU so I can someday teach students with disabilities. So just like Mahatma Gandhi said, by giving my service to others I slowly began to learn more about myself and what I was interested in.
The great act of service I chose to write about is the work I began doing at the HOPE Community Center this semester. It started as a requirement in my introduction to education course I was enrolled in this semester. We were required to do at least twelve service hours working with students from our desired grade levels. There were many different options I could have choose, such as providing extra help in a teachers classroom, working with students at a tutoring center, or even helping out at an afterschool program. But because I work at an after school program I wanted to choose something I don’t already do every day. I choose to work with the children residing at the HOPE Community Center. The HOPE Center is a place for women and families to live while they are trying to get back on their feet and into a stable home. During the time I spend at the HOPE center I either help the children with their homework or provide the children with activities to do during their free time. I mainly visit on Sundays so I mostly spend my time helping with lunch and playing with the children. Since the families residing in the HOPE facilities are very low income the children don’t have many resources for school work or entertainment. When I visit, depending on the day, I bring coloring books, various crafts and sports equipment to create activities to keep the kids busy during some of their free time. When I first started volunteering at the HOPE center it was hard because the children would constantly fight and it was hard to get them to listen to anything they were told. After a while they began to get used to me and they knew if they didn’t follow my directions they would have to go back inside. Even though I got my twelve hours shortly after I started volunteering at the HOPE center I still continue to go. I enjoy the time I spend with the children there and I know that if I’m not there, there are very few people who bring simple little fun into the children’s days.
The point of the assignment for both this history class and my introduction to education was to take part in helping people in a way that it would encourage what I choose to do in the future. I truly do feel that I have made an impact on the children at the HOPE center, even if some of them only look forward to the things I bring them. Although I have already decided I want to work with children with disabilities working at the HOPE center definitely changed some of my views on my future career. I think when I begin my teaching career I want to work with children that fall into the lower income categories. I want to make a difference in their education that without caring teachers they would never have. I may even someday want to further my career and work for the department of education in either something along the lines of ESE compliance or something that focuses on protecting low income students. Over all the more I find myself serving others the more I am able to find what I am interested in the most and I know one day I find my perfect career by doing just so.