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SMC students discuss experiences in service

Laura Baumgartner | Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Stressing the value of helping people and building relationships, the second lecture of the three-part “What Difference Does it Make?” series featured Saint Mary’s students sharing service experiences – an encouraging reality to campus minister Regina Wilson who said “all of our decisions and choices in life affect us in some way.”

Seniors Rachel Stowe and Angeline Johnson presented two separate sides of service work by sharing their volunteer experiences and detailing how they became inspired to volunteer.

Stowe began serving through the Saint Mary’s Office of Civic and Social Engagement’s (OCSE) Summer Service Project at the South Bend Refugee and Immigration Services office.

At the office, Stowe said she has had “a lot of different experiences with a lot of different people.”

“It’s hard to think about how it has changed me at this point because [service work] has had so many different effects on my life,” she said.

Johnson echoed Stowe’s feelings about the worth of volunteer work.

“Before I got into service work, I was at least always conscious of issues that were going on with other people,” Johnson said, “but I never really got directly involved, and I think that is the big difference for me, seeing from afar versus doing something.”

Johnson said the most challenging part of her work – which includes civil rights protests against Taco Bell and McDonald’s – is getting people to listen and change their attitudes.

“On this campus particularly there hasn’t been a lot of support of the causes I promote, but it makes me realize there a definitely people out there who need to be informed and have their attitudes changed,” she said.

While the lecture featured the work of two students, director of OCSE Carrie Call said around 50 percent of students participate in volunteer activities while they are at Saint Mary’s.

Call said the most important reason to become involved in service work is the opportunity available to help people.

“The things that I worry about are so small compared to the acres of need,” she said. “I think one of the things we don’t talk about enough is that service reminds us what life is really about and what’s really important, that it’s the relationships that it’s really all about.”