University 211 has been an experience to say the least. The course description as well as the explanation of this class on the first day did not prepare me for the workload that was required. I explained in my midterm essay that I would have NEVER signed up for a service learning class based on my course load and work schedule. Never the less, I had to stick with it and try my best.
One of the things that this class taught me is to question my food and where it comes from. In my opinion, that is what college is for. I heard a quote recently that states “college does not teach you what to think, but how to think. I am a senior about to graduate in less than a week so for a class to really imprint this idea in me makes all the work worthwhile in my mind. I knew that food was important (duh) but I had never stopped to ponder the sourcing of my food. I was actually talking to an acquaintance about this class and she said that she use to be a vegitarian but now isn’t. I thought this was very interesting and she explained that she only will by meat from responsibly sourced places. She also said “The way that I look at is, my vote is my dollar.” That idea has stuck with me ever since. I have always thought ignorance is bliss when vegetarians tried to sway my thinking, but I learned that even veggies can be harmful as a result of the industrial food system. Most of my classmates complained about reading Pollen’s in depth look at the food system, but I found it rather fascinating. Along with Pollen’s take on what is wrong with the food system, the excerpts of the Food Inc. documentary really made me question the standards of my food intake. One fact that sticks out in my head is the fact that feed animals are often fed byproducts of other animals. I reallllllly enjoy a steak, bacon, and some fried chicken, but this point of the semester, I highly considered becoming a vegetarian. One of my reactions can be read <a href=http://rampages.us/lbrackett/what-are-we-feeding-animals/”>here</a>
The article about lunchables, or as I referred to it “Grossables”, made me furious at the whole system. After reading that excerpt, I was almost ready to go protest. The article was completely condescending and ridiculous (I get worked up all over again writing this). My whole reaction to the article can be read here:
The client work did not go as I was hoping for it to. At the beginning, I was pumped about doing social media for Peter Paul Development Center. It turned out that they outsourced social media to a paid person and that what they really needed was volunteers. They cautioned us, however, not to get too close to the kids because the kids become attached easily. This made everyone in my group, who also have a similar course load and jobs, cautious of planning any kind of time. There was also a food distribution that happened every other Wednesday of the month, which was right during my senior capstone class that I was not allowed to miss. The group members that could go reported that there were some healthy food options but that people steered more towards the desserts and unhealthy items. That made me come up with an idea of having easy, healthy, and cheap recipes on cards to have available for the healthy food. There was a problem though- no one knew what the food would be until it was unloaded off the truck. We waited a few weeks to see what items tended to be available. The post about my client work can be seen here:
The beautiful examples of the recipe cards are shown below:
I am very proud of how those cards turned out and that my group came up with an idea that they will (hopefully) utilize in the future. This is just one example of an obstacle that the Peter Paul group had to overcome.
Keondra, Aster, Aster’s sister, and I went to Peter Paul to volunteer last Thursday, December 4. I am so happy and proud that I made the effort (even if it was after our last class) to go and volunteer with the kids. I am proud because in my midterm, I gave myself the challenge of trying to plan at least one activity volunteer day at the center and I followed through. The rundown of the whole visit can be read below on my page about it:
Makes were an interesting turn of events for the end of the semester. I was on the team of trying to design and paint the recycling bins for food drives. Like many other ideas this semester, this idea was squashed :(. The email chain is shown below:
The other make that I really enjoyed was the food art. I do not have the best creative eye, so I teamed up with Aster to create some awesome photos. Some of the photos that we shot were actually used by others in the class as memes. The VCU ram pantry one was specifically staged by me at the very end as a whim and I am glad I thought about doing it. My whole post about it can be seen below:
Overall, I am happy that I stuck with this class and made the best out of the situation. I am most proud of conquering obstacles of time, money, and fear of making attachments and volunteering. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the thing I am taking away from this class is to question everything. The food system/machine is not at all what I thought it was. I believe that having that knowledge makes me a better person and a better citizen of plant Earth (I’m aware that sounds cheesy but thats how I feel). Indirect service learning showed me that when it comes to work, always take the initiative to come up with ideas because even if they are not implemented, your efforts are almost always appreciated.
So thanks University 211 and Mrs. Boaz for not teaching me what to think, but how to think.