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Dominique Volney's Reflections

 

 

 

 

 
I wanted to be apart of the Center for Public Service (CPS) staff because I wanted to be an asset in encouraging students to participate in immersion projects so that they too could enrich their college experience as I have done. During my first two years at Gettysburg College, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in several projects orchestrated by the Center for Public Service which included trips to D.C. Outfitters (providing clothes to the homeless), New Orleans (rebuilding the Gulf Coast project), the Immersion Project to Alabama (Civil Rights Movement), and the Immersion Project to NYC (learning about non-profit activism concerning HIV/AIDS). Every semester that I’ve participated in these service-learning trips, I have learned something new that I could not have gained by sitting in class or attending lab.

In addition, I wanted to learn about some of the student’s perspective at Gettysburg College on various social justice issues and to encourage our student volunteers to think critically about the social justice issues that affect their host community that they would be apart of for during their semester break. Furthermore, I wanted to be in a space where the atmosphere fostered by my advisors and colleagues would be one that challenged me not only to become aware of the social justice, but how to dig deeper into the issues and find potential solutions to apply the acquired knowledge to informed action. My purpose encompasses all of these and the importance of encouraging students to be active citizens who desire to bring positive changes to our campus, local community, and world.
Community partnerships, the core of Center for Public Service programs, strive to be mutually beneficial – fulfilling both a community-identified goals and providing a learning experience for students. Program coordinators serve as liaisons between the Adams County and campus communities to ensure a solid partnership. 


EXPERIENCE

Unlike last year, where my focus was to advertise for trips that were already established, this year I had the opportunity to create a new immersion project on the foster care system. I was able to build the trip from the ground up. This was exciting for me because I didn’t know much about the foster care system and wanted to shed more light on this pressing issue. During our trip, we meet with several organizations in Washington D.C. which are apart of the national foster care coalition. We were able to dialogue about the services they specifically provide in all aspects of our society to help better the lives of foster and orphaned children from the time that they enter the system to when they “age out” and beyond.

 
LEARNING

I’ve learned that part of being a leader is acknowledging and reflecting on your strengths and weaknesses. It is important to communicating effectively to others when you need assistance. During my trip, I was able to involve each member in different tasks as I recognized their strengths in order to improve the success of our trip.

     
 Learning Circles aim to bring people from diverse backgrounds together to develop trust, understand each other's experiences, explore social issues and work together for long-term change. For 2007-2008, there are three groups focused on race, class and migration respectively. Dominique focused on race and participated in eRace: Gettysburg Dialogue for Campus Unity.

EXPERIENCE

As someone once stated, “to get what you’ve never had, you must do what you’ve never done.” This rings true with eRace because it was not until this group existed that there was a space in which people from different backgrounds could dialogue openly about race and white privilege and how these two affect us all.

 
LEARNING

As a black woman, I am always aware of my race even in a room where I’m the majority because of the messages that are ingrained in our society about white privilege. As a result, race isn’t always something I’m willing to discuss; however, if discussion doesn’t take place than change can’t concur. I understand that we may not always agree, but we can find common ground and begin to work to deinstitutionalize certain areas of our society.

     
 
 Through the Center for Public Service, Program Coordinators support student volunteers through education, training, reflection, communication, logistical coordination and the fostering of community/campus partnerships.

EXPERIENCE

This year with the creation of my immersion project I had the privilege of connecting with new partners in Washington D.C. Prior to our departure, we gathered together as a group several times to learn more about the organizations that we were going to be visiting. As a result, we were able to get a foundational understanding about the foster care system and the organizations which work to improve the lives of these children while in the system and as alumni.

 
LEARNING

I’ve learned that part of being a leader is acknowledging and reflecting on your strengths and weaknesses. It is important to communicating effectively to others when you need assistance. During my trip, I was able to involve each member in different tasks as I recognized their strengths in order to improve the success of our trip.

     
 Through experiences with the Center for Public Service, Program Coordinators have the opportunity to connect with community, develop professional skills, and find a supportive environment to discover their voice in social change.

EXPERIENCE

I have gained a broader perspective on what immersion entails which includes reciprocity and sensitivity. These two are tied together with reflection. Reflection is an important asset in continuously engaging and challenging my self as well as others. It helps to acquire a greater understanding of the community and their social justice issues. Through facilitation as the project leader for the foster care this year, I have put into practice the respect for others opinions by keeping the lines of communication open, stepping back, and allowing others to share what they have to say.

 
LEARNING

All of this has been acquired through a better understanding of the philosophy behind the asset model, which reminds us that in every opportunity to work with people we must remember that we are to collaborate to effect change along with them, rather than to think that what we have to offer far outweighs their ideas, or what we think they are capable of accomplishing alone. This rang true especially with my experience during our trip to D.C. because we were able to meet with different members of the national foster care coalition. In doing so, we were able to see how each partnering organization played an important role in reforming the foster care system.

 
 
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