Mariah’s Reflection

I have always had a love for reading, but year after year, I was plagued with the question, why?  When I was in elementary school, many of my friends did not have the same passion for reading that I did.  They read because their teachers required them to, not because they enjoyed it.  At the beginning of this year, I did not know what I wanted my group to be about, but we were required to attend workshops that would help us form our own service group.  I remember the one idea that every panelist reiterated was to find and focus on your passion.  I realized that I am passionate about reading and would love to share my passion with others.

With the assistance of Brenda, Sonya, and Kimaya, we created The Society of Bookworms, a group focused on promoting literacy and a love for reading among elementary and middle school children.  This year has allowed us to build the foundation for our senior year.  When we go to schools to speak, we have a variety of different activities planned to engage and excite the students.  We make connections between other forms of popular media- television, movies, and video games- and books.  Although we have not accomplished all of our goals, time was the only restriction, and with more of an opportunity to achieve our goals, I am confident we will complete much more.

Over the course of this year, our biggest accomplishment has been our meeting with two fourth grade classes at Jim Thorpe Fundamental Elementary School.  It was our first event that we were doing.  In the beginning, we were nervous, but once the kids came in, our worries were quelled.  Working with the librarian, Mrs. Rausch, we talked with the kids and helped them pick out a book during their library time.  The kids were excited and engaged, and I felt as though I was making a difference.  During every meeting with our service learning panel, we were able to focus and narrow down our goals.  The panel helped us enforce our original ideas in ways that were applicable and could be enforced.

Overall, this experience has been invaluable.  I am excited to make contacts that can assist us in the upcoming year, and I look forward to making an even greater influence on the community.

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Brenda’s Reflection

As a high school student, I have been around books long enough to have developed a strong devotion to them. Books and reading have played a prominent role in who I am now and started to before I could even register the affect they were having on me. Knowing that I wanted to share that with others was the easiest part of this Service Learning Project. The workshops that I attended over the first half of the year gave me some idea of what the next year and a half would entail. It was impossible to be fully prepared to start a project about my love of reading through just workshops but they did help. Even with the workshops, the challenges of the starting a project became blatantly obvious to me when my groups and I started our to plan out our project.

Making the transition from a structured project which was planned out for me to having the freedom to articulate my own interests into a service project opened my eyes to the challenges of community service. Having to plan out and implement my own goals gave me a new sense of appreciation for my first two years of Service Learning. This was probably the largest challenge we faced as a group this year. In my group we are all extremely passionate about reading and spreading that fondness among younger generation who seem to have lost that same spark when it comes to reading. We were however unsure of the how to spread our message. Our panel was helpful in overcoming this roadblock by offering up countless possibilities for us to explore. 

Once we figured out that the best way to go about spreading the love of reading was to have direct contact with children so that we could have some first hand experience. Our visit to Jim Thorpe Fundamental was the perfect way for us to do that. After talking to two fourth grade classes, I realized just how worthwhile this project had the potential to be. Helping them choose books and giving them recommendations for what to read next was especially rewarding. That is why in the future I want our project to continue to accomplish more of this one on one interaction with the children we want to have an affect on.  

Over the next year as a senior Service Learning Project, I hope that we continue to have contact with the children we want to influence and expand on the ways we do that. The idea of attending the Orange County Children’s Book Festival has become increasingly appealing to my group. There are other book festivals later on that we can also attend and hopefully participate in.  We also have the idea of a book drive at our school so that we can then donate those books. As a group we also want to talk to more children though visiting schools or reading at a local library. Overall, I cannot wait to continue this project over the next year. 

 

Sonya’s Reflection

Service Learning this year has taught me a lot about the responsibilities that come with starting and executing a service project. I really enjoyed working on our project because I am a very passionate reader that wants to foster this same love in younger kids who don’t have the resources or ability to read whenever they want. I believe that reading is an incredibly valuable skill and a tool that can be used for both entertainment and education.

            I think this year was a good start to our far-reaching goals. Our visit to Jim Thorpe Elementary School was incredibly successful. After we presented our poster and talked to the fourth graders, they were much more excited about reading and sharing books with each other. Hearing our stories instilled a greater passion in them because young kids really look up to high school students. This is a useful strategy that we will definitely implement into our plan next year.  

Though our presentation at Jim Thorpe was a huge success, we weren’t able to go to any other schools because of the lack of time. We only had half a year and school visits require a lot of preparation that we didn’t have enough time for. Next year, we will be able to do a lot more because we will have a full year to expand our horizons and do more influential things like go to the LA Times Children’s book fair and hold book drives. Our goals remain the same but our outreach and focus will be much stronger next year after a summer of planning and more Service Learning dates.

Overall, the half-year we had provided a good start to build the foundations for next year. Our panel and the workshops were really helpful in giving us ideas and more resources to aid us in our project. Our goals for next year include: running a book drive, hosting a bake sale/book sale to raise money, have a booth at the LA Times Children’s book fair, attend more schools, and find more contacts, foundations, or other Service Learning groups to partner with.

Kimaya’s Reflections

            This year in Service Learning has really benefited me as a person. The opportunity to create and participate in a project of our own making has taught me several necessary skills such as leadership, teamwork, and organization. Also, this project has built my confidence, showing me that I am capable of planning events and making things happen. I feel as though our group has accomplished many of its goals, and hopefully will continue along this good path as we enter next year.

            Our service learning group is called Society of Bookworms, and we aim to cultivate a love of reading in younger generations. As of now, our target group is third through fifth grade children in the local public schools. We have reached out to several schools in the area, including Newport Coast Elementary and Jim Thorpe Fundamental in Santa Ana. We even visited Jim Thorpe one day and helped the children pick out books. Finally translating our ideas into action showed us the viability of our project, as well as providing us with a springboard for future school visits. Next year, we hope to have a booth at the Orange County Book Fair, we hope to visit more schools, and we hope to work with public libraries to host readings.

            We have faced some obstacles this year, such as coming up with the appropriate funds for our project. Next year, we hope to overcome this obstacle by holding fundraisers such as book drive bake sales, in which we sell baked goods in return for books. Also, we would like to raise some money in order to buy space at the Orange County book fair. We also initially had some trouble narrowing our goals. After a lot of collaboration with each other as well as the invaluable advice of our service learning panel, we narrowed our field to local upper elementary school students and realized that we wanted to focus on getting children interested in reading, rather than focusing on simple literacy. This decision is evident in our creation of a booklist and a three-step plan for picking the favorite book, both of which are on our blog.

            My group and I have been very fortunate to have the support of our panel and of our school as they have really helped us make our ideas into something tangible. First of all, the workshops at the beginning of the year helped me see what specifically would have to be done in order to make a project into a reality. Hearing from Karina Hamilton and the head of the Civil Rights Tour really gave me a lot of inspiration. Ms. Hamilton gave me a lot of insight into what skills I specifically need in order to succeed, and I plan to use those skills both in my Service Learning process and in future endeavors. In regards to our panel, they have been very helpful in giving us ideas. We have taken several of their suggestions, from creating a book list to reaching out Alex Uhl at Whale of a Tale. I am very thankful to both my panel and the leaders of the workshops and hope to work with them more in the next year.

This year in service learning has been truly rewarding to me. I have learned various skills in leadership, organization, and collaboration, all of which I feel will serve me well as I continue with this project and with my life in general. I feel like our group has been very productive this year and I am optimistic for what next year will bring.