Over the last two weeks, I began my service learning at Gateway School, a hearing and speech agency for children of ages 3-12 who struggle with a variety of different disabilities. The school is located in Baltimore City and its sole purpose is to serve the child’s needs and enhance the child’s individual strengths throughout their education process. The disabilities range, including hearing impairment, deafness, autism, developmental delays, multiple disabilities, and other health impairments. Although I am helping out as an assistant teacher for two hours during the day, I feel like I am making a difference in the progress of the children I work with. Being in the classroom with the students puts the world in a whole different perspective. It is a joy to put time, planning, and effort into making someone else’s life more successful. When I see a child triumph over a problem, such being able to sound out a word on their own, it gives me a sense of pride and achievement just to watch their accomplishment. Helping others, as expressed in Jesuit vales, can be a path to a better understanding of who we are internally.
Justice is defined in many ways but based around the spreading of love not only with words but with deeds. The path and goals of the Jesuits are described through the promotion of justice in “The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education”, which we discussed in class. The speech explains that students “must let the gritty reality of this world into their lives, so they can learn to feel it, think about it critically, respond to its suffering and engage it constructively.” My involvement in the Gateway School is important to me because it introduces me to a side of life that not too many experience at first hand.
Internal acceptance takes evaluation and persistence in order to achieve. Because the Jesuits believe in educating the “whole” person, having an understanding of oneself is powerful and can only be accomplished by serving others. Learning about yourself is a process which is heavily influenced by the world around you. For example, in John Milton’s “When I consider how my light is spent”, Milton is overcoming a barrier in his life: coming to terms with his disability of being blind and accepting himself for who he is. Milton realizes that he was put on Earth to serve God and his blindness helped him clearly see his path in life.
Although Milton and the many kids at the Gateway School struggle with disabilities, it is imperative to know that service and justice can benefit both the giver and the receiver. By putting your whole heart into every task you do, the reward will result in a greater appreciation towards life.