Mon 11 Apr 2005
On WednesdayApril 6th I attended my last service learning at UCP. When I arrived with Chad there were few people there. We asked one of the employees there to answer a few of our questions for the Wiki page but they were unable to do so. Then I began to help some of the consumers into the building. I witnessed a yelling fight between one woman and others that were around her. I then helped a bus full of customers into the building including two people in wheelchairs. I began to help Junior and Marc do their puzzles. Junior was doing his usual asking questions about whether we were friends as he did his puzzle. Marc, who is in a wheelchair, was doing his puzzle and would sometimes stop to hold my hand. Holding my hand is something that both Marc and Junior have done before. As we did the puzzles Junior and Marc seemed to fight for my attention. I also began to color a little bit with Gary. One of the woman in charge of the place had asked to speak to me real quick. It was at this point that I had learned that through helping Marc and allowing him to hold my hand showed that I was turning him on and that if it continued there would be problems. Then I went back to helping Gary and Chad color. It was soon time for the daily lesson. Today they learned about the North Pole. It was also one girls birthday so everyone sang to her, and learned about her birthday. It was movie day following that and they put in an old movie that Nancy B had requested to watch the day before. During both movie time and the daily lesson, I observed the way the consumers acted with one another. Gary, who seemed to have picked up on Susie’s agitation that day, continued to egg her on he would not leave her alone until she yelled.
As I left UCP for the final time, I felt completely confused and embarassed. I did not know that I was somehow turning Marc on. I had worked with him other times and he had held my hand and no one said anything to me. Other consumers there also try to hold hands with me. After I had been spoken to I tried to ignore Marc, but then felt bad for leaving him alone so I brought him to color with Chad, Gary and I. I never felt more uncomfortable than I did at that time. I wish that one of the employees would have told me in the beginning more about how to handle touching.
Through this last service learning experience I fully realized Thomson’s writting on how the disabled are not a community. Seeing the way Gary and Susie interacted was almost the icing on the cake. Throughout my eight hours at UCP I have witnessed some consumers being mean and ignoring other consumers. They do not bond becuase they have the same problems in life. Rather, they treat one another the same way they do the “normal” people that are in the room at the time.