Civic Project Report Research Paper

Pages: 10 (3117 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Family and Marriage

Civic Project

Entry 1: Selection of the Civic Project decided to become a Big Brother for my Civic Education project. Big Brothers act as mentors to children. The children in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters programs frequently lack community and family support structures to help them emotionally and intellectually grow and thrive as they make their way into adolescence. I selected this organization to form the focus of my civic education project because mentors played such an important role in my own personal development as a human being when I was a young person. Without good teachers I do not think I would have gained a sense of the importance of securing a good education, and learned to love learning. Also critical to my growth and development as a person was my family. My family always tried to provide me with enriching circumstances, even when they were financially strained. They made an effort to take me to the library. They enthusiastically supported my various interests and passions as a youngster, spanning from basketball to dinosaurs, and reinforced the idea that my thoughts and dreams were important.

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The Big Brother program strives to build self-esteem and a sense that 'I matter' in young people, who may lack this sense of self-worth because their community does not provide them opportunities for recreation or personal enrichment. Little Brothers may be the children of single mothers or fathers who have little time, through no fault of their own, to devote to their children. Big Brothers provide positive role models. They show that success in life is possible through hard work. They give a positive sense of who the child can aspire to become, within the next few years. Big Brothers provide realistic and meaningful ideals. That is why I hope to become a part of the Big Brother program -- as my community gave back to me, so I hope to give back to another young person whose community may be lacking in the resources he requires to fully flourish as a human being.

Entry 2: Civic Project Objective

TOPIC: Research Paper on Civic Project Report Assignment

Objective 2 of the classes' stated mission stresses the need to explain the social, political, and moral contributions of America's Judeo-Christian inheritance and demonstrate that tradition's continued relevance in dealing with contemporary challenges. One cornerstone of modern Christianity is the need to give back to the community, and the responsibility the individual has to the community, particularly the least fortunate members of society. While many observers have noted America's tendency to lack community spirit in pursuit of America's intensely individualistic frontier, 'Wild West' ethos, on the other hand America has boasted some of the most self-sacrificing persons of modern history, such as Martin Luther King Jr. King's vision was rooted in democracy, but also the Judeo-Christian belief system of sacrificing the self for the good of the whole. King believed that putting his own personal security second to the needs of his people was required to uphold American ideals of democracy, and make America live up to its stated ideals.

A hope, in my own small way, to embody an individualistic vision of morality. I want to help a single younger person feel better about himself and look at society in a more positive light -- I hope to help my Little Brother see new opportunities in the world, opportunities of which he was never aware, and find a new sense of personal self-worth. But I also hope to embody King's notion of Christian charity and selflessness. Volunteerism on the part of private organizations is said to be the backbone of American society, an ideal of cohesiveness that stretches all the way back to the Puritan founders, even while it has been tempered by tolerance. I think that volunteering will bring a sense of meaning to my own life, as I will see another person, younger than myself, part of the next generation and the future, benefit from our association together, in the spirit of the civic principles stated in Objective 6.

Entry 3

In terms of the readings for this week, I found the readings from Bowling Alone to be particularly compelling in the way that they stressed the need for community-minded work like forming 'bowling associations,' softball teams, and church potlucks, for example, as opposed to going to the gym in a solitary fashion, surfing the Internet to play fantasy football, and eating take-out alone. On the surface, my world, and the world of the child I mentor cannot seem farther away from such a 'Leave it to Beaver' type of community. However, I think Putnam has put his finger on a very meaningful truth -- civic engagement must be fun, and give a sense of joy to both the giver and the receiver. Too many people take on community service as a duty, doing something they might not even like, and the recipient of their charity senses this, and maybe even feels resentful. I think of a time when I volunteered at a soup kitchen with a group of friends of mine as the requirement for one of the activities I did in high school. Our unenthusiastic attitude created a barrier between the people whom we served and made the activity less meaningful, even though we were serving food that people wanted to eat.

For this first session with my 'Little Brother,' we played basketball in a local park. It had been a long time since I had played a good game of one-on-one, and even though we were not equally matched, taking time away from work and study to simply enjoy myself, and enjoy being athletic in a way that I seldom get a chance to nowadays, was pure, simple fun. And my Little Brother sensed my enjoyment, and even though my actions were 'community service' they did not feel like service but mutual enjoyment. Putnam's examples show that long ago, volunteering wasn't a duty, but part of life, like going to church. People did not have to force themselves to join the local bowling league, and thus build a better community, and help one another feel part of something larger. Bolstering self-esteem in a collective manner through civic engagement was a natural part of life. Joining Big Brothers and enjoying the pleasures of childhood again, and having an excuse to spend a day with a ball and a fellow (although younger and smaller) sports fan is a good example of truly living Putnam's ideal.

Entry 4

Michael Walzner has stressed that modern, civic society is made up of voluntary associations. Sometimes, choosing to do something makes it more enjoyable. I thought of this when helping my Little Brother with his homework today! Suddenly, because I told him 'school can be fun,' and tried to help him see the delights of multiplication and answering questions about readings, as well as working on his science project, I felt myself believing what I said. It occurred to me that any time something is compelled, whether reading or writing or running laps, it automatically becomes tedious. Perhaps that is one good thing about modern, civic associations in America -- we can chose to go to what church we like, so people do and use church as a vehicle to give back to the community. We can choose our political leaders, and no matter how much we complain, they are 'our choice,' even if only the cross we have chosen to bear. School seems fun when you are choosing to help someone with the work, even if it causes mental effort -- and especially if you can see your virtuous choice and effort bear fruit when the child says, "I get it now!'

The downside to such choice, however, is that although America has perhaps more voluntary charitable associations than any country in the world, people are upset when they have the choice of making civic contributions made for them -- whether it is nationalized healthcare, or paying taxes to support better schools. The latter of which would help my Little Brother, I am sure because his school's computer system, textbooks, and afterschool programs suffer because of lack of funds. Americans are great volunteers when it is not compelled, but to truly make America reap the benefits of volunteerism, some national support is necessary -- sometimes people need to be compelled to give to help society truly move forward.

Entry 5

Alexis De Tocqueville wrote that Americans are forever forming associations, and praised the fact that this sense of voluntary, rather than state-imposed community seemed to sustain American society. However, while America may have benefited in terms of its reputation abroad from Tocqueville's compliments, unfortunately, this sense of community-mindedness does not always yield good results. In the community where I volunteer with my Little Brother, I often see negative community associations like gangs. In the absence of larger social cohesion, because they do not feel that any entity legitimately gives them a voice in society, young people not much older than my Little Brother use gangs,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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