As an educator and life long learner I find myself reflecting on my experiences. It allows me to better understand what I have learned and therefore allows me the awareness to provide and create rich and meaningful experiences with the children under my care. Service to others and cultural awareness go hand in hand. For example, as a young child and teenager volunteering or doing service at home, in my town, surrounding areas as well as abroad was a wonderful opportunity to further develop compassion and appreciation. In rural areas of Colombia, I saw happy children but with ripped clothes. In Italy, I saw distressed street children asking for money and food. In Morocco, I saw quiet young girls making rugs. I interacting with many of the children and although with some I did not speak their language, I felt a connection as we were all children. I played and laughed with them. I offered clothes, bread, and tried to consul the young Moroccan girl. I wanted her to hide the coin to keep it for herself. I looked around the room to hide the coin, finally I came up with an idea. I showed her how to tuck it in her dress seam. I knew the fate of that coin may get to someone else..In exchange she gave me a hug and let me weave a part of her rug. My weaving didn't work out. She smiled and patiently set it up again, and again and again. Then it was her turn. Colorful threads moving left and right, up and down although out the loom. It was intricate and I was amazed of how quickly she moved to make the design with all smiles. I learned about the beauty in their world...
Some of the trips we went on were intentional trips to serve and some became spontaneous sharing of Love. Although there were harsh realities in their life these meaningful exchanges taught me about the world, cultures, the spontaneous feeling of Love and to take immediate action towards helping those in need. It taught me that all these children where just like me.
Children have a natural sense of unity towards other children. It is important as educators and caretakers that we continue to nurture this sense of unity in children. If you do have the opportunity to travel this is great is you don't, I wish that one day you have the opportunity too but there is still a lot that can be done at home, in the classroom, school community and your town at large.
At home children can do service around the house through watering plants, cleaning the dishes or anything you think or feel will service your family as a whole. Remember when handling tasks that each task should allow the child to feel successful. For example having them wash 3 cups instead of 9.
You can branch out into the community. You can both follow their interests as to what they would want to volunteering in as well as expose them to new topics:
for example locally: new or on going project volunteering in soup kitchens, gardening, packing food for ones town
globally:supplies clothes for people around the world, set up online fund raising account
volunteering while vacationing
Connecting in taking care of one self as well as others structure the child to learn and understand that we can stretch out our Love as one big earth family.