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used shoes, service, and humility

A busy semester has come to a close, and finally now I have a few minutes to reflect in writing. Again, as I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been digging further into service learning as my pedagogical approach of choice–and really immersing myself much more deeply into acts of service in the process. Many of my students, as this semester has wrapped up, have reported what I [singlepic=1119,330,330] Shoes are heavier than you think.can only call “transformative” experiences. I get comments occasionally from students about how the class really changed them, but I’m usually skeptical about such remarks–especially if they come before final grades are posted. Are they only telling me what they think I want to hear? I’m no less skeptical this time around, but I can say that I’ve gotten remarkably more of such comments this semester than ever before–and many continue to come in now–even after grades have been posted. I can’t help but think I struck a chord with students. People want to be involved, they want their lives to be connected to others and to worthwhile endeavors; it’s just that sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. I think the class this semester gave some of them a place to start. It’s been cool. I can say that this is the first semester I can remember where I didn’t feel beaten up at the end. Rather, I’m feeling energized and excited about what’s next.

I remain engaged with some of the organizations I started working with along with my students this past semester–The Share Your Soles Foundation is one of those organizations. In fact, I only just recently wrapped up a two-month long shoe drive (that started as a student project, but eventually became my project). I also continue to assist Share Your Soles with their newsletter, other mailings, and writing as needed. Thursday Chris and I attended their anniversary fundraising event, as well. It’s been quite fun being involved with this organization and meeting all kinds of cool people along the way. I plan to continue my involvement. If you ever met Mona Purdy–the founder of Share Your Soles–you might wonder if I even have a choice in the matter. Mona is the kind of person you just can’t say no to, but that’s a good thing–truly.

It’s in moments like these that one understands that honor lies in the service of others.

One thing I am most appreciating in the service-learning work I am doing with my students is the opportunity to work side-by-side with students outside of the classroom. The baggage of the student-teacher relationship really falls away when you are sorting used shoes together, sweeping a floor, or boxing food. It’s grunt work–sometimes dirty–but it is humbling. I am reminded of my time in Japan studying Aikido. After a hard practice I recall vividly how the master whom everybody so revered as expert and wise teacher would be the first to take a wet rag from a bucket of water and–on hands and knees–begin wiping down the mats. We all worked together in the most mundane but necessary of tasks–side-by-side regardless of rank, age, or status. It’s in moments like these that one understands that honor lies in the service of others.

2 good 2 b 4gotten

Sometimes getting together with old friends who don’t live close by can be challenging, especially with different schedules, lifestyles, etc. But it is so worth the effort. We recently got together with Aidan’s longest known friend (the daughter of a dear friend of mine that I’ve known for quite some time). The two of us had our children just two months apart. She and her daughter were actually visiting me in the [singlepic=995,330,330] Aidan and Katrina, Old Friendshospital the day that Aidan arrived. It seemed when the kids were littler we were able to get together much more often. Granted we lived a bit closer at that time, we were both mainly stay-at-home moms, and our little ones didn’t have too many extra activities that they were involved in. Now our lives are busier with more work, extra kids, extra activities, along with now living further away from one another. It just seems harder to connect. But we did last week, and had a great time catching up on everything.

We met over at the Sci-Tech Museum in downtown Aurora. The museum was a little busy that day with camp groups, but we still had fun–playing and talking and just being together! Some of the favorite displays included the bubbles (who doesn’t like to surround themselves in a giant bubble), the fast-pitch baseball throwing, the simulated tornado, and the ever-popular rocket launcher. The kids especially enjoyed going out for ice cream afterwards. It’s neat to see two kids who have known each other ever since they were in diapers still getting together eight years later.

busy week photo roundup

It’s been a busy week with many activities.We had gymnastics on Saturday; visited a farm with friends Autumn and Clay Monday afternoon, and then checked out cousin Sean’s play that evening. Tuesday morning Aidan and I continued building and painting a Pinewood Derby car that we started a while back. He enjoyed working the Dremel tool. Later that day we had art class. On Wednesday, Aidan and Mom helped out at Pilcher Park in Joliet, IL with other Earth Scouts pulling garlic mustard and collecting trash. That evening we took a class on ocean life (see “Plankton, Squid, and the Imagination of Children”). Thursday, Aidan acted in Goldie Locks and the Three Bears. (He played Papa Bear.) Friday, we learned about predators and prey in our Fridays in the Forest class with Miss Anna, played with friends, and began to observe caterpillars working their way towards becoming butterflies. Finally, on Saturday Aidan helped us spread five yards of mulch and install two tons of wall stone around our planting beds. (Ok, he mostly just played on the pile of mulch.) Wow, I’m tired now that I’ve listed it all. I’m not used to all this summer fun. Like I said, it’s been a busy week. I thought I would post a few pictures with some of the highlights. (Not all the activities are represented, but you get the idea.)

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