The month of January has been incredibly hectic in getting back to school after winter break. I apologize for my lack of posts in three weeks! I’m going to make it up right now!
Today I want to write about my experience in having a service-learning opportunity through my high school which led me to found Laptops for Egypt. And I also want to talk about how important it is for students, regardless of the school or the major or the age, have access to service-learning opportunities. They honestly and truly have transformed my educational experience in high school and I believe that they would do the same thing for many other kids.
Prior to becoming involved in service-learning, school was simply school. I woke up every morning, went to school, came home, did my homework, went to bed, and repeated the same cycle day after day. My classes were the same day after day. Biology, Algebra II, American Literature, US History, Latin II. Day after day after day. My schedule was always the same thing over and over.
But once my sophomore year hit and I joined the One Laptop Per Child service-learning course, I found myself approaching school differently. First of all, having the service-learning course was a new mixup in my schedule which prevented me from having the same schedule over and over. But more importantly, the service-learning course provided me with a way to stop for a moment in my busy day and shift the focus off me and my stress/homework/classes/teachers and instead think about someone else: the kids and teachers thousands of miles away from me who would soon have access to the curriculum that I was creating. It motivated me to create the curriculum, and instead of seeing it as a hassle or merely a homework assignment I had to do for my teacher, it was something I did knowing that I would be helping people all along the way.
Suddenly, school became more about others and not as much about just me. I looked at my classes with a new pair of glasses–I started to take back my complaints about having too much homework or too much stress, and instead I began to think about how kids all over the world would give everything they have to have access to the education that I have every day and often take for granted. The service-learning made me want to come to school every day and learn for learning’s sake, rather than learning material for the purpose of getting good grades (which, obviously, are extremely important, too!). I had always enjoyed school, but since sophomore year, things have been different. I’m excited to learn, to further my education, knowing that in the future I am going to be using my education to help others.
I think it is incredibly important for students to have service as an integrated part of their school days. And it doesn’t have to be programming computers and creating curriculum on laptops. It can be anything. What you do doesn’t matter, as long as it’s being done. I think that having service-learning would motivate students to take responsibility of their own educations and to use their skills and knowledge that they learn in school in a way to help people who are less fortunate than we are.