Lesson learned

By Staff Writer
November 4, 2004

I really didn’t see the purpose of Cabrini’s SEM 300 requirement to volunteer in the community. I mean I’m busy and I really didn’t want to spend my extra time working on something that feels forced upon me. This ignorance of mine has been quickly removed from my way of thinking since I have been doing volunteer work for the Royer Greaves School for the Blind.
The experience has been extremely influential in how I perceive life and the hands each one of us was dealt. The reality of this situation is the kids of Royer Greaves are more of a help to me than I think I am to them.

Besides the students of Royer Greaves having the handicap of blindness, they suffer from a mental handicap as well. Neither I nor most people could imagine the difficulties these students deal with on a regular day.
I enjoy the interactions that I get to have by coming each week. For instance I was helping Faruq with his Braille. Of course knowing nothing about it I was useless. So, instead of trying to help I decided it would be best if he showed me.
The idea was enthusiastically accepted by Faruq. So, I felt good figuring out a way that would allow him to practice his skills and me to actually feel apart of his learning process.
I wish all my teachers were as excited and positive in their teaching habits. Each time I was able to repeat Faruq’s teaching of the alphabet in Braille, I received a sincere, congratulatory compliment on my progress.
At first I felt uncomfortable working with the students because I was always looking for eye contact. Not to come across corny but sometimes for a split second their rapid eye movement would stop and connect with my line of vision. Now I know that wasn’t naturally intended but it appeared for that moment they could see me.
When I’m not assisting them I will usually observe their actions. If someone gets up and walks around the room, I don’t need to move from where I’m either standing or sitting even though I feel I need to. It always amazes me how they can sense the presence of me even when I remain silent.
Whether this perspective serves any purpose to you doesn’t matter because you can’t understand unless you go out and volunteer with any program. I can only share my experiences and hope I can encourage at least one person to do something with their extra time or for this school.
When I’m at Royer Greaves working alongside each of these students, it is easy to forget my trivial problems. The fact is that I have been fortunate throughout my life. Volunteering has been an opportunity for me to learn the importance of caring for others.

Posted to the Web by: Scott Fobes

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