When I first found out about the Bonner Leader program, I was very much intrigued by its description. A program enacted by the Bonner Foundation to enable students to promote social justice in their community while financially compensating them for their time and efforts. This idea weighed heavy on my concentration because for the past two years I was immensely involved in community work but I honestly was having a hard time making ends meet financially. Therefore, following my initial conversation with Dr. Blosser about the program, I immediately knew that this was something I needed to be a part of. While I knew that I would be involved in community service, I did not know that I would gain such a tremendous insight about civic issues, and develop some worthwhile friendships as well. My time with the Bonner program has allowed me to fulfill my passion for community service in helping youth, learn so much in becoming more socially aware of community issues, and gain true friendship in the other Bonner student leaders I work with.
The site I am working at is a homework help program for children whose parents are busy taking ESL classes, and it has been interestingly fun for me to work here. We have seen many of the children grow academically in different subjects, as well as grow in their personal character. Many times I have come to work and was instantly filled with joy by the kids’ happy and imaginative behaviors.
Each month this semester we have hosted a “Bonner Chat” which has been open to anyone in the community. These events are meant to raise social awareness by creating discussions and providing information about different civic issues. So far we have learned about homelessness and childhood literacy. Although I knew somewhat about each one of these issues, the chats brought me much closer to the harsh reality that these problems create. I am now much more sympathetic about the issues and those affected by them, and I have a strong desire to advocate more on their behalf. In February, a few of us took a trip to the Intersect Leadership and Diversity Conference held at Elon University. I was very impressed with the variety of expertise that we were offered at each session; we were able to engage in some meaningful discussions amongst each other about the various topics.
We recently completed our first year Bonner trip and it was absolutely spectacular. Although our service project was cancelled due to inclement weather, the trip was still beneficial to us as a group. In the time that we were down there, I learned a lot about my fellow Bonners which helps me to understand their way of thinking and in turn understand more about myself. Since we have advanced our relationships among each other, I believe that the work we do together will be more effective and efficient.