I define community service as your service to your community, but more importantly, as the connections that you normally wouldn’t make in your community. That’s why meeting the people who make up your community is important, because they can teach you more about yourself.
"That’s why meeting the people who make up your community is important, because they can teach you more about yourself. "
My community is very Japanese American, but I was not raised with many Japanese cultural influences, so through Kizuna I learned more about myself. In my Service Learning experience, I taught older adults through Project Kokoro how to use Uber and become technologically fluent with smartphones.
On my first service trip at Tanaka Farms, we had a group discussion on community service, and how to solve the causation of problems rather than to mitigate the effects. During this session they asked what you do in your “JA Community.” I wasn’t really sure what “JA” meant so I had to ask and to my surprise, it stood for Japanese American. This represented the start of my journey to learn more about my culture through working with the older generation.
"This represented the start of my journey to learn more about my culture through working with the older generation."
In our second meeting after teaching older adults about Uber, we all played a game in teams. One player from each team was blindfolded and given a Japanese American snack, and whoever guessed the food correctly won the round. I didn’t have much experience in “JA” snacks so my team lost quite a few rounds, but thanks to my other teammates and our Project Kokoro friend, Rumi, we won the game. After, we passed around “JA” items and Rumi would tell us about her experiences with them.
A few sessions later, we had an Uber test run and went to H-Mart to purchase ingredients for our “JA” foods that we cooked with our Project Kokoro Friends. My group had great drivers going and coming back, so our Uber experience went smoothly. Our Project Kokoro friend taught us how to cook the dishes after we taught her how to use Uber. When we got back, we cooked tofu with bonito flakes and musubis.
Going into this, I didn’t realize that Kizuna would be a learning experience for me and my Project Kokoro friend. From now on, I will think of community service as a way of connecting with your community rather than labor.
"From now on, I will think of community service as a way of connecting with your community rather than labor."
I learned how important your mental approach is because if you go in thinking community service is twelve arduous hours of work, it will be. But if you are open and have fun with it, it doesn’t feel like work it’s a way to learn about yourself and others.