Monday, August 19, 2013

IPAD Professional Development at OU

As a graduate of OU School of Education, I was invited to participate in the first IPAD training of their education students in collaboration with alumni.  You were to chose two workshops.  I chose to learn about two applications, iExplain with Explain Everything facilitated by graduate student, Russ Cole and iEdit with iMovie, facilitated by social studies teacher, Nicole Pearce.  Our head librarian attended the workshop with me.  She attended, iResearch with OU libraries, facilitated by Molly Strothmann, and iLearn with Apple Apps facilitated by OU Staff, Keegan Long.

My first surprise, as I entered the school of education, was how much it had changed.  It is a welcoming and beautiful facility that now honors the memory of Jeannine Rainbolt.  My second surprise was that every OU education student had a new IPAD which they will be required to use as their books are all online.  Students can keep their IPAD if they graduate!  My third surprise was the food they provided for the end of the day refreshments; fruits and vegetables.  Water and lemonade, but NO Water bottles!  They are practicing what they preach!

We connected to the organizers of the event to follow-up with further training and collaboration.  An instructional Sunday afternoon!  I can hardly wait to purchase the Casady YAC Ipad Mini donated by the CPO to enhance our outreach work using technology!

While I was at OU, I spent many wonderful teaching and learning hours at Kauffman Hall.  I had a feeling of sadness and nostalgia when I entered this influential building in my life. Sadness because compared to the education building, very little had changed. Nostalgia, because I could see where as a 21-year old student, I learned about life and Latin American and Hispanic Literature from professors who were incredible master teachers and mentors.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Service as personal and professional development

Eboo Patel, creator of Interfaith Youth Core is coming to Oklahoma City in October 2013 as part of the Oklahoma City University's  distinguished speakers series.  In June, I attended a press conference at the Oklahoma Conference of Churches about Patel's visit invited by the Respect Diversity Foundation because of my work with teens. ( Casady YAC and Youth LEAD OKC Conference participants expressed to Carla Clinton from the Daily Oklahoman how they were preparing for Patel's visit through service initiatives and discussion groups of his books, Acts of Faith and Sacred Ground.

 I was in the process of reading  Acts of Faith and stated  hoping to motivate faculty and teens on my path to read Patel's books and participate in discussion groups of Act of Faith.   Acts of Faith is about Patel's life and the messages I received were of service as a unifying value, an exploration of  "peace, the heart of service," and youth as entrepreneurs of social change.

I am pleased that a Casady junior connected to exploring the interfaith initiative during the summer.  After attending two TIDE Conferences at Boston universities, this student has volunteered to lead a 10-minute reflective component of the OCC Interfaith Teen Tour on September 22nd.

 At the press conference, I was invited by the Interfaith Alliance Foundation of Oklahoma  to participate in their first service day

While preparing to go to the service site,  I read the article written by Carla Clinton,  linking the day of service, Beyond Coexistence to Patel's visit .

As I was driving to the service site, I thought that even the service day location, The Holy Family Home, was metaphoric and connected to Patel's, Acts of Faith.  In my 12 years as a service coordinator, this was my first direct connection to my Catholic roots. I felt glad to live in a different era than inquisition times.  I also remembered that Patel had influential service experiences with Catholic connections. Furthermore, the service day would provide the opportunity to experientially learn about service based on values.  The value of faith was going to be a commonality amidst the diversity of the participants.

Throughout the day, I made connections to Shinnyo-en Foundation's workshops on interfaith, values, and their paradigm of service.  At the end of my work day, I concluded that at Beyond Coexistence,  people who in the news and books have a war history;  in my adoptive home town, in the heathland of America, for a few hours, connected to my father's values and we experienced peace through servicing human dignity.

 I attended Beyond Coexistence with two goals in mind, "Don't anticipate, participate" and "Leave it better than you found it. " I was part of group two.  Our task was to clean up and plant new life in an area overgrown by weeds.  Other groups were cleaning the outside of the house, making picnic tables, and working on flower beds. 

The people's actions and positive attitude made me  think of The Holy Family Home service team as a human kindness salad.  Our uniqueness was not lost, like in a melting pot. Each person added a special flavor to the result that was a better environment for the women and the families who live in the Holy Family Home.

As we worked,  the Generationon hunger project question came to mind, What do you bring to the table?  I was hungry to connect to the stories of hope of the people in my team. I asked questions and they kindly responded.  I found their willingness to share encouraging.  By lunch time, we had worked hard at two levels, transforming our flower bed into a place of beauty and getting to know our roots. During lunch, the natural conversation went to what as an AFS exchange student in 1973-74 I was told to avoid;  the roots of our stories, our religious beliefs, or lack or questioning of them.

When we returned to the job site, we realized the day will end early because of our efficiency completing needed tasks.  We gathered in our original groups after retrieving supplies and  REFLECTED!

After everyone left. I had a private tour of the Holy Family Home.   This was "el broche de oro" of my experience.  I hope to come back with interested students and help their mission of providing a chance to single mothers and women to bounce back and find a better life for themselves and their families no matter what their religious beliefs are. 

As it happened before after labyrinth walks at Shinnyo-en retreats, I left the interfaith service site wanting to know more about the duality of my roots, Native American-Inca, and my Catholic faith.  I also went to Full Circle and purchased a copy of Eboo Patel's books for the Casady Service-Learning Library and searched this blog for Interfaith workshops of significance that might be helpful to students interested in the subject.

Values Based Service Resources from workshops at National Conference on Service and Volunteering

Interfaith Dialog

The Interfaith Dialog at the National Points of Light Conference in service and volunteering sponsored by the Shinnyo-en Foundation was facilitated by Hannah McConnaughay, and Amber Hacker of Interfaith Youth Core. Ironic to find Patel's influence already in my blog.  What makes NOW fertile ground for this seed?

The goal of their workshop was to show how to incorporate interfaith dialog into the reflection piece of service-learning projects. Their approach has foundation on what religions share, their common values and with what they struggle.

Process of the workshop:

1. Guidelines of interaction : They asked participants how values affect who you are, but do not give facts and figures because we do not know everything

2. Texts of the Shared value of Service: We read at loud, could pass if desired. Then we discussed: Any resonate? Did you find any challenging? Did any help you see service in a different way?

3. Role playing.. Skills as a facilitator in challenging times.. The art of listening and reflecting instead of providing judgment

4. Sharing non faith-based meaningful service experiences. What inspired the person to engage in such experience? How was that experience based on your faith tradition or moral values-human- perspective?

5. Read the texts again and ask participants if they think differently now that they have listened to stories about inspiration from different traditions. How did the themes of the texts played out in the stories told?

Texts on Service on Interfaith Sacred Books:

Baha'i Tradition of Service (from Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha) One amongst His Teachings is this, that love and good faith must so dominate the human heart that men will regard the stranger as a familiar friend, the malefactor as one of their own, the alien even as a loved one, the enemy as a companion clear and close.

Buddhist Tradition of Service (From Itivuttaka 18) If beings knew, as I know, the fruit of sharing gifts, they will not enjoy their use without sharing them, nor would the taint of stinginess obsess the heart and stay there. Even if it were their last bit, their last morsel of food, they would not enjoy its use without sharing it, if there were anyone to receive it.

Christian Tradition of Service (Matthew 25:35) "For I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thristy and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcome me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me." Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you? And the king will answer them,"Truly I tell you, just as you did it to the one of the least of these who are the members of my family, you did it to me."

Hindu Tradition of Service (from Bhagavad Gita 3.10) At the beginning, mankind and the obligation of selfless service were created together. "Through selfless service, you will always be fruitful and find the fulfillment of your desires": this is the promise of the Creator...

Jain Tradition of Service (from Tattvarthasutra 5.21) Rendering help to another is the function of all human beings.

Jewish Tradition of Service (Deuteronomy 10:17) For the LORD your G-d is G-d supreme and Lord supreme, the great, the mighty, and the awesome G-d' who shows no favor and takes no bribe, but upholds the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and befriends the strange, providing him with food and clothing. You too must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Muslin Tradition of Service(Surah 93:1-11) I call to witness the early hours of morning, and the night when dark and still, your Lord has neither left you, nor despises you. What is to come is better for you than what has gone before; for your Lord will certainly give you, and you will be content. Did He not find you and orphan and take care of you? Did He not find you perplexed, and show you the way? Did He not find you poor and enrich you? So do not oppress the orphan, and do not drive the beggar away, and keep recounting the favors of your Lord.

Secular Humanism Tradition of Service (from the writing of Pablo Neruda) To feel the intimacy of brothers is a marvelous thing in life. To feel the love of people whom we love is a fine that feeds our life. But to feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weaknesses-that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens out the boundaries of our being and unites all living things.

Sikh Tradition of Service (from Guru Granth Sahib) The individual who performs selfless service without thought of reward shall attain God's salvation.


Values-Based Reflection of Service:

Incredible workshop! led by Lila Miller, Lisa Eisen, Rabbi Will Berkovitz, and Ted Marquis (Learn and Serve). It was sponsored by a Tulsa based foundation, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. Lisa Eisen is a resource we need to have in mind in the future.

Things to remember from this workshop:

a. High quality service programs enrich the service provider through values based reflection.

b. Evolution of service:

1.0 Volunteerism, community service without a reflective component

2.0 Service-Learning, classroom based, reflective cycle

3.0 Values based service with reflection: Commitment based on values that solidifies identity and impacts life. Faith and spirituality responding to community needs with impacting values based-reflection process enhances citizenship, academic achievement, and sense of self-efficacy.

The Schusterman foundation helped the Rabbi take teachers to Israel to help them become better teachers. They reflected on their style of leadership and how they faced challenges and used their abilities to problem-solved what came their way. The Rabbi created the initiative called REPAIR THE WORLD. He drew from his experience as a former director of cultural, arts, and wilderness travel. I need to ask Sam if they know about Repair the World program?

Rabbi Berkowitz recommended to read the book THE SERVANT AS LEADER and he shared his process of values based reflection.

He shared the following texts

1. "...And right action is freedom From past and future also. For most of us this is the aim Never here to be realized; Who are only undefeated Because we have gone on trying..." -T.S. Eliot, The Dry Salvages

2. You are not obligated to finish the task; neither are you free to neglected. -Pirkei Avot (Teaching of the Sages), Chapter 2,21

Then, the Rabbi asked us to be in pairs, by stating, "Make a friend and acquire a teacher".


 Introduce yourself to the person you will meet. Pay attention to the answers. Place your heart to understand the other and yourself. The questions were:

1. What is the task that you have been trying to contemplate in the world? Why?
2. How would the world be different if you succeeded?
3. What motivates you to keep trying when it would be easier to quit?

My partner was a young man from a YAC at a university in Texas, Austin. His was respect for human dignity, mine was peace. Funny I always thought of those as the same. Our reasoning was very similar. It was an amazing reflection which empowered us to keep on trying.

A few inspirational thoughts;

Are you a tourist or a traveler on service? Do you encounter the other? Do you tell their story, or just focus on yours? Do you challenge assumptions? Do you become a witness of the others' realities? Are you able to see it from their perspective? You are also asking me questions and I hear you. I answer that I cannot answer, you must find answers yourself.

When you listen to storytelling, be a River Guide: Listen, create space for conversations, let the texts be the other voice in the room " Now I wash the stuff from your eyes, you must habit yourself to the dazzled of the light of every moment of your life."

Teach people to see what they have been blind to. see.

Then we saw the violinist in the subway: ."See the violinist in the subway!"

Set-up the space for conversations: A candle in the room.. Creation of a sacred space.

Leave your cynicism at the door. Self-reflection: Why are you here? Where have you been? Where do you want to go?

Create team building opportunities:
Trust walk..a safe environment.. IF PROJECT (I must research this)

Share life stories: Leather bound communal journal Top 10 list
1. Strike the right balance
2. Plant strong roots, yield strong branches
3. Challenge assumptions
4. Explore both particular and universal values
5. Create of sense of agency
6. Offer diverse options
7. Administer daily doses
8. Capture teachable moments
9. Let peers and texts speak
10. Find a great partner

Then we heard about the reflective process of Ameri Corps, City Year which now involves about 41,000 volunteers. Their big initiative this year is "Stay in School." They also have "Alternative Spring Break Programs." This program is based on an idealistic journey; Give a Year; Change the Outer World through service and the Inner World through reflection and leadership development.


The presenter then described the Americ Corp City Year process of recruitment, training and retention.