Methma is a Volunteer Representative for Swearer Tutoring and Enrichment in Math and Sciences (STEMS). As a VR, Methma helps plan weekly meetings for the tutors, which are intended to provide Brown tutors with tools to work more effectively, through tutoring skills, knowledge of current education policy, discussions on the role of a tutor in a classroom, or information about the Providence Public School system. She is currently tutoring in a physics class.
Learning for the Sake of Un-Learning
Tara is founder of the Brown University Brain Bee, co-founder of BruNotes, co-president of Brown Alzheimer’s Activists, and a volunteer for Partnerships for Adult Learning (PAL) and Home and Hospice Care of RI (HHCRI). She is also the recipient of this year's Yat K. Tow Prize at the Swearer Center for Public Service. She's been busy, but takes a moment in her final days at Brown to reflect on what it's all meant.
Four years ago, I came to Brown with the expectation of “learning for the sake of learning.” In my application essays, I had adamantly expressed how the Open Curriculum would allow me the freedom to study whatever I wanted and the autonomy to shape my own education.
But I couldn’t have known then that my education would not be found in sleepless nights trying to memorize the stereochemistry of organic chemistry reactions, nor in between the covers of books briefly skimmed for a paper due the next day. My education, rather, has been found in the stories I have heard, the homes and streets and schools I have entered, the people I have met. Perhaps, it would appear, I have never been, nor can be, the conductor of my own education. My education has been as much about discovering how much more I don’t know than I do know and the extent to which the opportunity to learn about myself and others has often appeared unexpectedly - unplanned and unpredicted.
As a freshman, I was so intent on asserting an identity, on carving a niche for myself that would serve as something to grasp onto in a sea of change. It was service that became the anchor I desperately sought. I have realized that it is in serving others – in losing the indifference, the prejudice, and the inhibition that so often separate us - that we can find ourselves, that is, who we are or who we strive to be.
I will never forget how shiny my hospice patient’s eighty-year-old eyes became as she described how she met her husband at the roller skating rink. Nor will I forget the time I was helping a refugee student complete a financial aid application and his mother, unable to communicate with me in English, instead prepared for me a cup of tea that sent a warm tingle through my belly full of gratitude and understanding.
The first song my piano student played with both hands; the whiteness of my adult student’s knuckles as she tightly gripped her pencil, struggling to write the alphabet: these moments, among many, will, too, form the pieces of self I carry.
In just a few days, I will have graduated from Brown, but long after I leave this university, I can always return to the memories, the connections, the interactions – however brief or seemingly insignificant – that have bound me to the individuals I have come to appreciate and admire and understand. They have inspired, strengthened, and emboldened me, motivating me to effect change in my community such that their stories do not go unspoken. I now understand that learning cannot only be for the sake of learning. Learning cannot, and should not, only be selfish. It can also be selfless, and it is in this way that we uncover the connections - however mysterious and deep, mundane and meaningful – that, profoundly unite us, regardless of our differences.
June 20, 2016
June 13, 2016"I think about opening my mouth to call out goodbye, or to salute her in a traditional sign language farewell. Instead, I stand silently and smile."
Sally Hosokawa is a Community Fellow for Writers’ Group, a Swearer Center Community Program that facilitates creative writing workshops for adults with developmental disabilities. She studies literary translation in the Comparative Literature Department.
May 14, 2016“Club teachers understand us,” she says. “Even though they’re older, they’re not that much older, and so they’re like us and we can identify with them and talk to them about our problems.”
Addy is a volunteer with the Brown Elementary Afterschool Mentoring Program (BEAM), a Swearer Center community partnership that facilitates after-school programing activities and mentorship between Brown volunteers and students at William D’Abate Elementary School in the Olneyville neighborhood.
February 22, 2016
Pia is a junior double-concentrating in Education Studies and Comparative Literature. This is her third year with Writers' Group, a Swearer Center Community Program that offers creative writing workshops for adults with developmental disabilities, and her first year as a Swearer Center Community Fellow.
February 19, 2016I was intrigued by the program, but very intimidated by some of the topics. I’ve never been in the position to talk about gender or sexuality or rape culture.
Tiara came into Brown dead set on studying Neuroscience. After a summer or working with the local Planned Parenthood branch and taking health based classes she realized public health was her real calling. She has been volunteering for the SHAPE (Sexual Health Advocacy through Peer Education) program since sophomore year.
February 16, 2016