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Journal #9- Kaci Sutton

Yesterday, my friend volunteered with me at Heritage Park. It was a nice opportunity for me to hear her impression of how she thought volunteering went. She was very upset with the things the children were saying. One of the things she was particularly upset about was the middle schoolers talking about twerking. Twerking is essentially shaking your butt a lot. I find it disgusting, but that is just my personal opinion. My friend, let’s call her Sarah, found that the twerking is unacceptable. She said, “Kaci, they twerk in the hallway.” I wasn’t seeing the problem. I wasn’t shocked. Then it dawned on me her experience was the same experience I had the first couple visits. So many things the children were saying really shocked me. I didn’t realize I became so desensitized being around the kids. I spend a lot of time with them now. I stopped judging what they were saying. I learned to just look at them as people, more specifically children. It’s normal. It may not be “appropriate,” but the reality is that is how every generation is. The people who are much older look down upon the generation and get really upset. I see why. I just think it’s more realistic to approach volunteering as realist now, instead of idealist. When I first started volunteering, I had all these ideas of how things should be and I found myself getting so frustrated and upset that my expectations did not match reality. I started looking as each child, regardless of their race, as children. I applied this approach to my personal and professional life, too. Instead, of looking at people as I thought they should be acting I just see them as they are. I did not think I would take this away from volunteering this semester, but the more time I spend with them the most realistic I become about human interaction. I tried to explain all of this to my friend on the way back from Heritage Park, but she was still very livid. That is when it dawned on me that this was part of the CSL experience. It is an experience. Something that you experience over a period of time. It takes weeks to really reflect and process everything that you witness. You have to take yourself out of your own life and learn how to try to relate to other people who live a totally different life than you. At the same time, they are still human so making connections is still possible. I think now it is just how you approach any situation that makes a serious difference. When I stopped going there to get things to write about and actually get to know the kids, I grew a lot more, more than I thought possible.

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