Thursday, April 14, 2011

Words of Advice (Part 1)

This post is for youth considering service at Banani.

When I was making a decision about my year of service, the considerable lack of information on any of the places I wanted to serve was nerve-wrecking. That’s part of your year of service and the patience you use in making the initial decision will be needed throughout your year of service. However, maybe I can make that process a little easier for future youth and provide you with a few answers and tidbits of advice on serving at Banani International School.

How will I be serving?

Many people will advise you not to come with any expectations. This piece of advice is ridiculous. It’s impossible not to come without any expectations because there is already a process you have gone through in order to arrive at the decision of coming to serve at Banani, which involves other people telling you what you can expect. So naturally there are some expectations. The point is don’t get your hopes up about certain aspects. Pray and strive to be detached.

You might work in the library. Currently youth are reorganizing the library according to the Dewey decimal system. Once the library is complete you may be asked to spend time behind the desk checking books in and out and keeping the library in order.

You might sit behind the reception desk while the secretary is away for lunch break. This involves and hour and a half of sitting, copying handouts and worksheets for teachers, answering the landline and/or school cell phone, and ringing the bell when it’s time for students to change periods.

Your main duty will be as a dorm mother. Think of this role as playing the big sister. When the girls are unhappy or in tears, you might comfort them or give them words of advice, or just be a good listener. At 20:30 you are in charge of enforcing quiet time and at 22:00 you make sure all lights are out and everyone is in bed. You might serve food at mealtimes.

You might organize Baha’i Holy Days both for the community and the school.

You might act as a chaperone on school trips and for Saturday entertainment nights (which is basically a dance party).

You might organize activities and outings (like games or arts and crafts) for your dorm. You are responsible for the spiritual upliftment of the girls while they are in the dorm, so you might organize a devotional or prayer gathering for them.

Above: Girls in Dorm B doing arts and crafts

You might teach children’s classes, facilitate a study circle, and/or animate a junior youth group in the community.

You might do a lot of things. There are many ways you can serve at Banani, but some of these outlets you will have to seek yourself. Be diligent and don’t give up, there is a need for service even if the adults here haven’t yet learned how to organize the youth.

Reality check: Banani is still a developing school in many ways. Do not expect organization or communication. Many things will have to sprout from your individual initiative and diligence. You might have opportunities to start a club or tutor students in subjects which you specialize in, but you will have to open those doors yourself by communicating with teachers.

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