#CapturingCommunity is a series where we, in the Service-Learning community, are able to sit down with staff from our community partners, faculty at Northeastern, and students to hear about their experiences with Northeastern’s Service Learning program. In this first post, we welcome Kevin Wong from Family Gym-Foundation for BCYF!
Role within Service-Learning: Community Partner
Organization: Family Gym – Foundation for BCYF
How are your values expressed through your community engagement and Service-Learning work?
I feel that I learned a lot about myself during my first semester as a graduate student at Northeastern. Dr. Li’s Intro to Assessment class was my first taste of mindfulness. Her guidance and presence left a last impression on me that I still bring into my work with families and Service-Learning students each week. I try to approach life now with a very mindful, strengths-based, and person-centered approach. Each week of our program provides students and families with opportunities for growth rather than just lecturing them and handing them resources.
What is one thing everyone should know about Service-Learning?
Service-Learning is much more than just building experience for your resume or doing community service. Service-Learning is a great way to practice skills that you will need in any workplace from leadership and rapport building, to risk taking and perspective taking. It is more than just a good opportunity to work with others. It is a good time to also work on yourself, but that is only possible when you pick a site that matches your personal interests versus what is convenient.
Did you find Service-Learning or did Service-Learning find you?
I had to volunteer with a partner organization as part of my Clinical Skills class for my Master in Counseling Psychology program at Northeastern. I chose to work with Family Gym because of its health and wellness component. While we were not directly part of Service-Learning, the process (and expected learning outcomes) were similar.
What is your favorite memory of Service-Learning?
I think that my favorite part of working with Service-Learning has been getting to know families over the course of the four years I’ve been with the organization. I served alongside Service-Learning students for a year and have directly supervised them for over two years. My favorite memory is when I had kids coming up to me at the end of the day crying during the last session of my first spring semester. I had babies and toddlers latching on to me, and giving me drawings they made of us exercising together. They wouldn’t let go until I told them I would come back to play with them in the fall. This memory is what made me want to become a site supervisor and later program coordinator with BCYF’s Family Gym program. I still work with many of these kids today and it is very rewarding to see that I have instilled a personal desire for health and wellness in them.
If Service-Learning were a food, what would it be and why?
I think Service-Learning would be sushi. There are so many different kinds that once your find what you like you’re set for life! Sushi is a good metaphor for the volunteers themselves. Everyone has different backgrounds and skill sets, yet the end result is always the same. Students (and partners) undergo personal growth and learn new skills they didn’t know they had previously.
Adapted from S-LOG post published on October 10, 2019.