Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Many class discussions have been centered around the idea of the relationship between travel and experience. I myself have discussed it in one of my earlier blog posts and I have noticed it popping up in a few of the other students as well. In accordance with that idea another theme that has made its way throughout literature and discussion is the the notion that one does not have to physically move very far to both travel and experience.
Baltimore is a dynamic city. It has an unusual mix of personalities, races, economic and social situations. Beyond that, there is a noticeable division within the bounds of the city of those groups. I am from New York where we have neighborhoods and sections certainly. Mostly they are based on nationality, geography, history, and some even similar to that in Baltimore. What is so unusual about this city though is how drastically different sections can be within one or two blocks from each other.
Those drastic changes are one of the ways in which people can have this experience in travel. Those differences are also what afford the students of Loyola the opportunities to provide services to the city and the people of the city. I have worked at the Choice Program for just about a year now. One of the things that is particularly difficult about working there is that I am not guaranteed to encounter the same kids week after week. I have to try to make a connection with them, earn their trust so that I can have an impact and then leave a thought in their head in three hours.
What I have noticed about the kids is that they are very skeptical about listening to a (for lack of better words) white college kid. Who am I to tell them what to do? Who am I to teach them something? What do I know about their lives or how they ended up where they are in life? When I realized that a few of them do come back, time after time, or at least once in a while is that this is not only a learning experience for them it is an escape. An escape from a neighborhood that may only be a few blocks away. So while I need to do my job, and try to leave them with something to think about their future, I also have to acknowledge that this is their travel, their escape. They get to leave their lives behind for a few hours a week and live, in some respect, like I do.
To the east of our campus is York road. It is an infamous road here for its 'threat' to students who enjoy libations there on the weekend and it is renown in Baltimore as a notable split between races and economic status. On the west side and to the north we see the difference. Greenway and Northway off of Charles St. are some of the most sought after residents by wealthy homeowners in the entire state. The kids that come to the program at Loyola walk those lines every day, yet they are always stuck on one side. Travel means something very different to them. We have spoken of traveling by choice or necessity. What about as an escape?

Also, as a sort of a side note for those people that did have the time to participate in the service learning approach to this class it is interesting to be a part of someone else’s experience. We think of our service as a journey, as those we serve endeavor on their own.

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