Volunteering is a powerful way to learn about the community in which you live — it can expand one’s perspective, deepen their connection to those around them and break down stereotypes that divide us. This month, 11 juniors from the Burke School have started their service learning with THC with two information sessions.
Prior to meeting coming to THC, students took time to learn about and discuss issues of homelessness and poverty in their class on advocacy and social justice. Students read Dasani’s story in the NY Times, taking time to reflect on their similarity in age and what they might feel if they were faced with similar circumstances. They listened to Home Rule, a This American Life podcast on the challenges faced by homeless youth in the education system. Students even tried the online simulation, Spent, to learn about how quickly financial instability, health issues, job loss and other factors can add up to create a situation where one might become homeless in the first place.
In early January, the Burke Students came to visit our office location in Petworth where many of our case managers and programmatic staff are based. They had small group discussions with members of our employment services, youth services, family housing solutions and data analysis team members! There was a lot of energy in the room along with passionate discourse as staff spoke about their experiences working with the
parents and youth in our programs.
Later in the month, the class returned for their second service learning session at Partner Arms 2, one of THC’s transitional housing buildings in Petworth. Students received a tour of the space, including an apartment that had recently become empty as a family moved out of our program and into stable housing. They watched THC’s video and focused more on the stories of the parents and children that participate in our programs. There were great discussions on social justice, systemic inequality and the power of empathy.
We look forward to working with the next section of this course where there will be more opportunities for service and reflection!