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New York

Explorations of Urban Poverty

The class spends one week serving with Youth Service Opportunity Project (YSOP) and explores issues of urban poverty in the five different New York City boroughs. Students serve at organizations that provide cooked meals to the homeless, food pantries, and an organization that provides services such as day care for mothers who are or were incarcerated.

Some quotes from students who have gone on the trip:

“When I got home, people asked me about my trip but I did not describe the class.  I did not describe the service I did or the activities we did as a class.  I described how it has changed my life and view point on the homeless”

“This service trip was not about the minor impact we made on a few organizations or the less fortunate we helped for a few hours.  It was about humbling ourselves and interacting with these people, whom we soon realized were very much like us”

“By making eye contact, I can tell a person who may feel invisible that they are seen, even when language acts as a barrier…I learned today that your body language is often heard as clear as spoken language and sometimes your tone is more important than your words”

“This trip made me want to further my involvement in the community and to continue my learning about these issues in our community.  This class has opened my eyes to not what I can do as an active citizen as in my community but all the factors that are cause poverty”

“Today’s service was a great teaching moment for me and gave me a minor epiphany.  I realized that service [organizations] that fed or clothed people weren’t going to solve poverty.  They are just a band-aid on a much larger issue.  What these organizations can strive towards is bringing a little happiness, hope, and dignity to the people they are serving.  They can do this by simply treating them as fellow human beings, by looking them in the eye and acknowledging their humanity.”