This past week, I traveled south on I-75 from Traverse City, MI to Detroit, MI. Although the original reason for my travel was to attend a concert I received tickets to for Christmas, I decided to make a little trip of it.
While in Detroit, I stayed a night with my fellow service members Cassandra Van Dam and Dominic Sweeney, who serve in Detroit. That’s one great perk of serving FoodCorps they don’t tell you when you sign up – you now have couches to crash on across the state (and the country, for that matter).
Although I was taking a little time off while I was down there, I asked Cassandra if she might be willing to have me tag along on a few of her lessons to help out and observe. I asked on a whim, but I am so glad I did!
It was really lovely to watch how she interacted with the kids, how the kids interacted with each other, and overall get a feel for what her service was like day to day. The urban school communities that Cassandra serves in Detroit are very different than the rural communities that I interact with in Traverse City, so I enjoyed being immersed in the unfamiliar. Not only did I get a taste of how the schools she serves operate, I was able to observe how Cassandra operates as a service member. I learned some really clever ideas from her that I am going to take back with me to my service (such as telling the kids to run in place while a blender is running to symbolize energy while making smoothies!).
I would encourage this kind of collaboration between service members. If you ever have the time or the means, visit one another, even if just for one lesson. Although I only had time to shadow Cassandra’s lesson, I have no doubt I would learn new and different things if I shadowed each and every one of my fellow service members.
The experience reminded me how each of our service is unique and for that reason, it is essential not to compare your service to others. It’s easy (at least for me) to look at what you’re doing in your service and think you’re not doing enough, or what others are doing is cooler, or better, or whatever-er. Visiting Cassandra reminded me that we are all doing amazing things, and we are doing our best with the resources we have to work with. That will look different for every service member and every service site. It’s just the nature of the beast.