Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Lucy Smigiel's Story

Hello All!  The summer is moving past us quite quickly--it seems like just yesterday I was at AmeriCorps graduation.

Here is a new AmeriStory from one of our own--Lucy Smigiel, Univeristy of Wisconsin graduate.  Check it out and think on times gone by!

Why did you choose to join AmeriCorps?

Lucy Smigiel: AmeriCorps is a practical choice for a recent college graduate who doesn’t totally know what they want to do and they want to get experience. Also, some people feel the responsibility to give back to a community even if it isn’t the community they grew up in.

AmeriCorps is a very practical option because it gives you so much hands on experience. I feel like I have lived such a life of privilege, it’s my responsibility to give that back. I just noticed a really great quote this morning that says something like, “service is the rent you pay for living”. I think that’s so true. I think that I should have to pay a higher rent because I have kind of have life handed to me on a silver platter. I think service work is what allows me to give back and to use my education to then give other students a good education.

What would you tell someone who is considering AmeriCorps?

Lucy Smigiel: Do it. I think it’s OK to be selfish in that if you don’t know what you want to do, choose a job that will allow you to learn and grow. If you can’t find a job, you might as well do something that allows you to learn and grow while simultaneously helping another community. It’s kind of a win-win situation on both sides.

More after the jump!

What did people around you think when you joined AmeriCorps?

Lucy Smigiel: I think my parents were excited and proud but they were also like, “Why are you taking a job that is not going to pay you? You have a Bachelors Degree, you’re worth more than this! Why are you not finding a job that’s paying you what you’re worth?” Underneath the excitement there was some confusion in not understanding why I wanted to commit to this service.

Since you’ve been in AmeriCorps, have your parents begun to understand why you are serving?

Lucy Smigiel: I think their perceptions are starting to change. I think once I accepted the position I’ll have for next year which is tutoring and service work, they started to see that this isn’t just a one year commitment I made for after college...I’m actually commited to service work. I don’t think the importance of service is understood in that you’re getting paid in more than just money. You’re getting paid in the experiences you get, in student achievement, and in so many other ways.

Do you feel like you’re living at the same class as the people who you’re serving?

Not at all. I’m so privileged emotionally from family and friends that I don’t think I’ll ever to be able to recreate the same scenarios.

What does service mean to you? Why is it important?

Lucy Smigiel: Service is not like a debt you owe to society, but because I have been given so much in my life, I would feel really greedy to use those things for only my personal gain. I wouldn’t feel comfortable using my education, the emotional support, and the financial support I’ve received to only better myself. I feel like I need to use those means to better myself and a community at the same time.

What is your role in the school?

Lucy Smigiel: I think i’m there to tell the kids that education is super important and extremely valuable for them. It’s a way to break the cycle and go to college, get a job, help support their family. You can’t do a lot of those things if you’re behind in middle school or else you’re going to be set back in the pack.

What is service?

Lucy Smigiel: When your goals aren’t about you, they’re about somebody else. Selflessly serving... not only is it not about you, but you can’t expect anything in return. You can’t expect thank yous, you can’t expect the people you serve to really be aware and acknowledge you for what you’re doing. And yet at the same time, service is so fulfilling. The students really do fill you up even though they’re not saying, “Hey, thanks a lot for helping me with that math test today!” They don’t say that, but you still get the same kind of fulfillment. With service, it’s kind of pointing your objectives outward and looking outward and thinking about what needs to be done in the community and thinking about how you can use your strengths to fill those needs.

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