This month I continued my volunteer work with Anna’s Place: Arts and Medical Mission – the after school care component of St. Anna’s overall community mission. Most of the participants in the program just recently returned to school from summer break, so in order to allow them to slowly get back into the swing of things, I will formally begin my teaching assignment next week! This month, I had the chance to rotate throughout the program as a volunteer in order to gain a more broad understanding of the program and its mission. One of my favorite activities was volunteering as the supervisor to the dance class component of the program. Each semester, our student participants are invited to perform for different events and festivals around the city, as well as private events hosted by some of our corporate sponsors. So every week, our student performers rehearse for some of these penultimate performances at the end of the semester. While I intended to only supervise these classes, the instructor invited me to participate with the students. We danced to both contemporary and traditional West African music in interpretative form. One of the most important things that I learned during this dance class, and something that’s constantly reinforced in my experiences here at the university and New Orleans, is that there are many non-conventional methods of learning and education that we often take for granted. The students range in age from 5-15 – they all have different levels of focus and different interests. But the art of dancing and music can be just as effective a teaching tool as traditional methods. When a student felt constrained by their peers’ opinions on their dancing ability, the dance instructor would explain that in life, allowing others to define your own personal potential can drastically hinder you from realizing your potential. When a student would goof off and not pay attention, he would explain to the other students who might be tempted to mimic that behavior that in life, taking your eyes off of your own personal goals in favor of giving focus to those goofing off will never help you realize the goals that you’ve set for yourself. Those were pertinent lessons for anyone, but especially students being molded and shaped by their experiences, including me. I’m so grateful that I was allowed to participate in contribute in these sessions and can’t wait until next week’s class!
Community Service Totals
September: 5.5 hours