One Student's Reflection on a Service-Learning Experience
Crossroads Emergency Youth Shelter, in Norman, OK, provides short-term emergency homeless shelter care for up to 12 children from birth to 17 years of age in Cleveland and other Central Oklahoma Counties. The Emergency Youth Shelter is a safe, nurturing environment for children experiencing any kind of crisis in their lives.
In what ways did this service project challenge you in your spiritual walk?
I have a strong relationship with Christ, because I talk with him daily and apply my faith in the world to help others in need. This service project gave me the opportunity to test my faith around kids who have been through difficult situations. In many ways, I could relate to these young kids with whom I share a similar story, and this enabled me to connect with them immediately and be there with them in a positive way. I believe God is always speaking and in that moment he was speaking to me, getting me out of my comfort zone to get to know these kids and relate to them. This experience has made me realize that these young kids are no different than me or anyone else, because we are all created in God's image. The kids want to do the same things I did as a kid, and God was telling me to love on them because he loves us.
How did the project allow for God to reveal His character to you and/or others?
I experienced God speaking to me when I was asked to come over to meet a kid who loved to draw, but didn't know how to draw. I love doing art, so it was the perfect opportunity to go speak with him even when I didn't feel that comfortable talking to people. I spoke with him about art and we colored together and I gave him some tips on his artwork. In that moment, I felt God saying that this is what the boy needed. I just listened to him while we colored. He told me that he liked drawing but that no one had ever taught him how. He said that doing this with me has helped him draw better.
Discuss the most challenging aspect of this service project. How did this experience alter your views of community service?
The most challenging part was seeing the kids get used to living in the shelter for long period of times, without any visits or being able to go home. I wondered how they felt about us being there to visit them. This changes my perspective because I now see that community service is not something you just do. It requires you to really engage and help make a difference in someone else's life. It requires selflessness and a willingness to not judge others' conditions in life. It is not about me, but about actually being there for someone else in need. This experience made me want to be more involved in my community because there are so many other opportunities to help, just like this one.