by Liam Warin '20
Both STA and NCS require a student to work sixty hours of social service; however, these hours must be done in a “person-to-person” fashion.
The person-to-person label has been slapped on many things, sometimes legitimately, others questionably. For example, Martha's Table is a fantastic way to help the community because it combines physical labor in sorting clothes with social interaction between customers. These routes of reaching out to the DC-metro area through immediate action leads to improvement of the student as well by widening one's worldview. The average STA and NCS student is primarily sheltered and privileged, so experiences with the less fortunate put students in vulnerable states where they are forced to socialize, fostering the development of character. Without these experiences, students are deprived of the opportunity to grow as a person.
The most unfortunate occurrence is the misnomer of such places like A Wider Circle as people to people community service events. Don’t get me wrong, AWC is a phenomenal place for a phenomenal cause; however, it does not provide the same intimate personal relationships that other sites like SED bring to the table. AWC allows students to hide out in the basement, avoiding all meaningful social interactions. Quite simply, A Wider Circle does not meet the person-to-person requirement of community service.
Person-to-person community service is firstly intended to make the student help the community and secondly intended to cultivate character growth. An unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people and forced interaction accomplishes this goal; a place filled with friends in a comfortable scenario and no outside people fails to do so.