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Community service is about viewing the world through a different set of lenses. It is about moving out of your comfort zone and helping those that are less privileged than you. I view community service as if it were on a continuum. Wherever you stand on the continuum, there is always someone less privileged than you on the left and someone more privileged than you on the right. Community service takes the metaphorical phrase of “stepping into someone else’s shoes” and turns it into a reality. When you engage in community service, you are metaphorically moving down the continuum and viewing the world through a different set of lenses. No matter where you stand there will always be someone more privileged than you and someone less privileged.
Once you understand the continuum you can better help others that are in need. No matter your circumstances there are always going to be less privileged and more privileged individuals than you. By realizing this fact, you are taking the first steps to engage in community service. Moving from an egocentric mindset to a more altruistic mindset is the first step to understanding those that are less privileged and again viewing the world through a different set of lenses. By helping the elderly or building a home for a family it takes the ability to view the world differently in order to truly understand the meaning of that particular service and how it benefits those that are less privileged than you.
By understanding the concept of the continuum, it has helped me to realize how blessed I am. Everything that I may take for granted, such as drinking a bottle of water, is something that somewhere in the world, an individual may have to walk miles for every day to receive. The continuum has always helped me to realize that community service can come in many different forms due to the different levels of privilege. Community service can be helping to package food at the food bank or actively going to different countries and providing access to clean water, and/or medical aid. No matter what it is, it is helping someone that is to the left of you on the continuum. By giving up your time, you are slowly shifting the continuum, so that those who are further down the continuum are able to move up.
Article by Jordan M. Franklin. Jordan is a junior majoring in neuroscience. In addition to serving as a Community Engagement Ambassador, Jordan is also the president of UNICEF @ UD, president of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, a research assistant for the Infant Caregiver Project, and a peer mentor with the First Year Seminar.