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Warning: include_once(): Unable to allocate memory for pool. in /var/www/blogs/archive/wp-settings.php on line 553 Warning: include_once(): Unable to allocate memory for pool. in /var/www/blogs/archive/wp-settings.php on line 553 ARCHIVE — Dickinson College Blog » Lauren Ma.

Lauren Ma.


I entered the Carlisle House this afternoon with Erin and was immediately welcomed by Sam, one of the members who regularly attends the House. I spoke to him at the door for awhile about the weather, Thanksgiving, his future jobs, and his friends at the Carlisle House. A couple other members approached us and joined the conversation. One of the men told us he helped cook meals at the House. I noticed about 10 males and females at the Carlisle House casually sitting in the main room. They were either talking amongst themselves or reading magazines. I walked by a bunch of the people sitting down, said hello to them, and began making deeper conversations with a few of these people. I recognized one of the men from when I had my orientation last week and found it easy to talk to him again. Throughout the visit, I walked into the ‘plant room’ with Erin and a few of the attendants of the House. We stood in this room for awhile and I learned about the hobbies and other interests of the people at the Carlisle House. Among us was also another member in the room who helped out by watering the plants. After speaking with these people for awhile, we moved into the game room and observed some of the men playing pool. Walking into all of the different rooms gave us a chance to interact with many of the visitors.

My visit to the Carlisle House made me feel very comfortable. After entering the house, people immediately approached me. These actions demonstrated their curiosity and willingness to interact with new people. Many of the men and women enjoyed making conversation, so it was easy speaking with the people at the House. Throughout the visit, I noticed that many of the people I began talking to reciprocated conversation and enjoyed my company. They were interested my questions and were excited to share their experiences at the house with me. I felt very welcomed when the visitors at the Carlisle House asked me to play games with them and watch tv together. The people I met this afternoon were very willing to talk about their personal lives and this made me feel an instant connection with them. I was very pleased to see all of the people at the house contently sitting together and making friendly conversation with one another. It seemed to me that there are probably minimal arguments and problems between the visitors at the House. Additionally, it felt good to know that the people at the House liked the atmosphere and the programs the Carlisle House offered. They seemed very pleased with the Thanksgiving dinner last week and the group activities. Finally, I noticed a lot of the people who attend the House also have small jobs there. I thought this was a good way for the people to feel like they are making a difference and to help each other out.

In class we have discussed many stereotypes of impaired and disabled individuals. According to Garland Thomson, these distinguished individuals are often negatively viewed in society. In texts, for example, disabled people are usually exaggerated and taken out of context. Frequently, their differences become false portrayals in order to create extreme circumstances and interest among audience members. However, it was interesting to interact with people today who would normally be exaggerated in texts because they stereotypically fit a “disabled” group in society. In contrast to Garland Thomson’s theory, I did not observe extreme behaviors from any of the visitors at the Carlisle House. All of the people I interacted with were friendly, many did not show visable signs of differences, and these individuals had similar traits and behaviors compared to others I have talked to before. After my visit at the Carlisle House, I thought it was interesting to interact with people who are often stereotyped in texts. It was upsetting to know that these people are often exaggerated because of their differences. This exaggeration is inappropriate because all of the people I met today were wonderful human beings.

By volunteering at the Carlisle House, I am looking forward to interacting with new people and having the chance to impact the lives of people with mental disabilities. I am a little skeptical about my level of comfort, though, when immediately entering this new setting. Sometimes it is challenging and uncomfortable to be in an unfamiliar place and not knowing what to expect. My goals for this project are to interact with a variety of individuals, learn about their lives, and find commonalities between their lives and mine, despite the differences we may share. Although I am a little hesitant about beginning this service learning project, I am confident that my contribution to the community will be beneficial to my growth and to the lives of the people I impact during the process.
Working at the Carlisle House seems similar to my experience in Spain. When I was abroad in Madrid, I volunteered at a hospital and had the opportunity to work with ill children. My experience of working at the hospital was both rewarding and challenging. First, I connected with the children at a personal level and was immediately welcomed into their lives. The children became more confident in the hospital setting after I worked with them. This gave me a sense of satisfaction knowing that I helped them through their difficult hospital visits and overnight stays.
Although my experiences in the hospital were generally positive, the volunteering position was also challenging. Many times I felt it difficult to immediately interact with some children at the hospital because they lacked interest in my effort to speak and play with them. I discovered that many children were simply tired in the early morning or simply wanted to spend time with their parents. Another difficulty was telling some of the children I had to leave for class when we were in the middle of a game and in the process of forming our new relationship.
Similar to working at the hospital, volunteering at the Carlisle House will allow me to interact with people I normally did not have contact with. These volunteering positions are valuable because I will feel a sense of satisfaction and appreciation for the everyday experiences I may normally disregard.
At the Carlisle House, I can personally impact the environment in which I will be volunteering. I will do this by having a positive attitude while working. By putting forth effort and having the desire to speak with different individuals, I know that my optimistic attitude will be beneficial to my experience there. I am fortunate to be working first-hand with people at the Carlisle House because I feel that the relationships I will gain are advantageous to my growth and equally important for those people who live there.