I didn’t choose Community-Based Learning; Community-Based Learning chose me. As I sat in my Intro to Women’s and Gender Studies course on the first day of spring semester 2013, I had no idea what CBL was. I had no idea that it would change the way I view education.
In my Women’s and Gender Studies class, our discussions revolved around the kinds of ideas and theories and social issues you would expect when looking at the course title. When I chose to do my placement at Let’s Get Ready, a non-profit that offers free SAT prep courses for high schoolers in the New England area, I couldn’t see how my work in the community could relate back to the kinds of issues relating to gender dynamics we were discussing in class.
But as I thought back on the coursework for the semester, I remembered reading Adrienne Rich’s address to a women’s college about claiming an education. Rich’s speech sought to empower young women to be active claimers of their educations rather than passive recipients.
By the time I completed my placement at LGR, I had seen how the educational injustices in our society have complicated the lives of students in Worcester Public Schools. Lack of access to resources and guidance left many of my students struggling through college applications and the basic work of an SAT prep course. They had to fight for their education in a way I never did. I began to realize how much I’ve taken my educational advantages for granted. I began to realize how much time I’d wasted being a passive recipient of my education.
Watching my students grow and struggle over the course of the semester changed my outlook on education in America. Not only have I come to know how fortunate I am to be a student at Holy Cross–something some of us so easily forget–I’ve learned to approach my education as a source of empowerment.
In high school, I never availed myself of the wealth of service opportunities in my community. I was selfish with my time and with my education. But working with CBL taught me to approach my education in an entirely different way. It taught me that my education is valuable. You’d think that’s something I would have realized long ago based on the price tag alone, but working in the Worcester community added a value that can’t be understood in terms of dollars and cents.
Working with CBL, I learned that my education is something I can share. It’s something I can contribute, however small that contribution is, to ameliorating the educational injustices rampant in our country. It’s something I can use to serve others, and the best part? The more I use it, the more it grows.
–Rachel E. Greenberg