Guzman: When did your dedication to service begin?
Wilson: I had to do required volunteer hours in high school, but that’s very different from what I now consider service. My dedication to service began when I came to K and I got involved in the AMIGOS program when I was a first year. AMIGOS is a mentoring program with bilingual students in a local middle school. When you put [service-learning at K] into the context of wider social issues and developing that critical awareness and sense of reciprocity is where I think my commitment to service really began. Investing myself with another individual and with a program and with a sustained commitment to an individual, to an issue, to a place—I think that’s when the service begins.
Guzman: Has it been difficult to balance service-learning with class and other extracurricular activities?
Wilson: I think it goes back to that reciprocity in that I am tremendously fulfilled by what I do. This year’s been a real struggle, but I really appreciate the relationships. A lot of the stress, the lack of time and the culture of pushing yourself are all created by the environment at K. To be in a new environment, engaged with someone—it’s not like it takes up time. It’s actually relaxing. It’s something I look forward to.
Guzman: Was there ever a time when you really didn’t want to do this? A moment of weakness, maybe?
Wilson: I mean, all the time! There are times when I don’t want to go to class! I think the key is, if you’re doing something and most of the time you don’t want to be doing it, then you shouldn’t be doing it. Service work that isn’t sustainable isn’t serving anyone.
Skalican: There are always moments of frustration, but it’s not like community service in that some days you’re just like, “I just don’t feel like going and serving soup today,” because it’s not community service. It’s really service-learning in that you’re constantly reflecting on the good and bad of all these projects. As a civic engagement scholar, you have so much help and so much support. No matter how difficult or frustrating certain days can be, it becomes your goal to be able to work through those frustrations.
Guzman: What’s been your favorite service-learning experience?
Wilson: When I was a first year in the AMIGOS program, I was partnered with a student who had to do a project at the beginning of the year where he had to make a bunch of stars. He had no idea where to start, so I taught him a couple ways to make them. At the end of the year, I noticed that on some of his papers he would just draw stars. It was something little, but I was like, “Oh hey, I’ve been a part of this person’s life.” It’s the little things, those little moments that keep me going.
Skalican: I run Club Grub at Woodward, which is an after-school gardening program for 2nd and 3rd graders. In the fall, we partnered with the gardening class at K and we brought the kids on a field trip up through campus and up to the garden. It was really fun for them to see college students tending to their own gardens. They were walking around campus being like, ‘This is where you go to college? This is where you live?’ I think it was sort of inspiring.