Service/Capstone Update/Lesson from Class
Choose one to write about:
1)Update us on the work you are doing at your service site. How is it/isn’t it living up to your expectations? What new responsibilities have you taken on or would you like to? How are you learning self advocacy?
2)What are some lessons you have learned from the Bonner classes you have attended over the past month? We have had several interesting ones (How to Get the Job, Building Relationships, Goal Setting/Backwards Planning, Planning for CETx Talks, Gentrification, Cultural Appropriation and Fetishization). How will you carry these lessons forward into populations outside of Bonner?
3)Please share some of the lessons you are learning as you are going through your capstone process. How are you learning from your mistakes and/or the mistakes of others who have come before you? What advice do you have for Bonners who will soon start their capstones?
I love my capstone work, but I’m not entirely sure how much I love the documentary that I’ve taken so far. I don’t really enjoy doing it as much as I thought I would and kind of want to take another approach, such as writing, but am not sure if I should just push through. I have really enjoyed getting to know people’s stories and being able to connect with the Danesh family- that has all been wonderful. I am also excited that I am going to be able to focus on the mental health of refugees since that is one of my interests, instead of just the sense of community it’s taken to bring the Danesh family here (although that is clearly important as well). I am excited to see where next semester brings me.
Bonner, through its various obligations, has made me recognize compartments of concerns that don’t necessarily have a personal impact on me but are a major source of concern for others. I never knew the damage culture appropriation was capable of causing threw strengthening stereotypes and aiding in the demolition of individual identity. I think I’m currently surrounded by a lot of people who don’t understand culture appropriation which can also be reflected through my ignorance. The only way I can further learn from this is through research and becoming knowledgeable on the various cultures and distributing the knowledge to others as well.
My service site is FOCUS Churches of Albany and I really do enjoy my time there. I’m still doing a lot of direct service with the Breakfast Program and Food Pantry, mainly because with the times that FOCUS Churches operates, this is mainly what can be done. However, I have been doing a bit more indirect service with my site supervisors, Fred and Belinda. Although I do enjoy the work that I do there, I wish I had more indirect service and more things that I could contribute to. Some new responsibilites I would like to take on is being able to be a part of some of the projects that FOCUS has, whether this be with the Poor People’s Campaign or anything that FOCUS does themselves. I am learning self advocacy by being able to communicate this with my site supervisors and finding the courage to tell them that I would like more indirect service next semester to have a more efficient use of my time there. Overall, I really like my site.
Some lessons I have learned from my Bonner classes this past month is how to take steps toward presenting myself professionally to future employers and within my professional relationships in service work. I will keep these skills in mind applying for internship and scholarship opportunities and when I reenter my summer job work relationships. I also learned more about what challenges POC in America experience disproportionately to white Americans such as displacement from gentrification and discrimination and stereotyping from cultural appropriation and fetishization. I will use this knowledge and make habits of kindness and respect in my everyday. I’ll research more to continue informing myself and seek out ways to be an ally and act against those injustices.
As my work with AVillage is coming to an end, I’m feeling very accomplished with the work I have done. Although the state of the nonprofit is unclear right now, I feel like my experience as a whole with them has really shown some of the struggles that grassroots nonprofits go through to make changes in the community. Prior to working with AVillage, I only experienced what nonprofit work looks years into its operation. I struggled with motivation a lot because of this- sometimes it was hard for me to do the work when it felt like the nonprofit itsself didn’t want to. But that’s a part of doing service, especially while working with grassroots projects. It’s not work that has a straightforward outcome, and sometimes doesn’t work out. But that doesn’t mean the work wasn’t done or important.
As I am finishing up my capstone project, one of the biggest lessons I have learned is that perfect is the enemy of the good. Throughout my Bonner career, capstone has been something that has always felt like such a large undertaking, and it was challenging for me to see the project fully coming together. It is definitely a big task, and there are so many steps to go through to get to your end goal. The planning process feels so long, so when I was finally at the point where I could start writing, I felt like everything needed to be perfect. I was so scared to actually start writing because for so long I had ben in the planning phases. I came to understand that nothing I write was going to be perfect, and that the best thing I could do was to just start. Once I did this, my ideas started to flow and I was able to put all of my ideas onto paper. My advice would be to go into your projects with the mindset that you are the expert on the work you have done and that your thoughts and ideas are important and noteworthy. Have confidence in your abilities and you will create something you can be proud of!
My service site is The Connect Center and I’ve really enjoyed working with everyone there. I usually serve by myself which can be a bit intimidating in itself; nonetheless, the work I’ve accomplished at The Connect Center has served as an experience for interests I didn’t know I had. My role at The Connect Center is program assistant but I have done a little bit of everything, especially towards the end of the semester. At the beginning of the semester, I was assisting John to run First Lego League which is a stem-related club involving robotics utilizing legos. Occasionally I would also run First Lego League and I loved working with the kids getting to see their creativity run free with legos. Throughout the semester I was also posting weekly blogs on The Connect Center’s website and sending out a weekly newsletter to their email list which was something else I loved to do. I would definitely say that I learned a lot of useful skills at The Connect Center and even when I felt uncertain about things, I was comfortable with being vocal with my concerns. Ultimately, I’d say it was a pretty successful semester and I can’t wait to go back next semester!
A part of my service is as a PA and I have been working on recruitment this semester! It has been a challenging road and I have had to learn that each recruitment year is going to look different. I have learned a lot of new skills this semester by conducting interviews, sending out emails, and communicating with Tamara and the recruitment team. When we first started the recruitment process I definitely thought that by now we would have a pretty much full freshman class for 2026. While that is not the case, it is just taking a little more time this semester! I have learned that it is okay! We have learned how to adapt and come up with new ideas for recruiting! I have had to work on advocating for myself this semester a lot. In the beginning I was taking on way more than I could handle and I had to learn how to better delegate and in a way assign roles to others to make sure that everything is able to get done. We are not done with the recruiting process and I am very excited for all that are going to join our Bonner 2026 class!
Something that has really stood out to me over the past few weeks is the last few Wednesday night meetings all connect in many different ways but one overarching issues is the lack of education that we receive on issues such as gentrification, cultural appropriation, fetizization and even LGBTQIA+ topics. I learned so much from all those trainings but still struggle with understanding why these topics aren’t discussed in normal school settings. They should be incorporated into early education and should be more well known then they are. The concept of human zoos, gentrification or different sexual orientations should be implemented more and I think it just shows that the education system still has a lot of work to do in order to become more inclusive and informative on ALL issues and topics. A big thing to is just remembering to take what you learn from these Wednesday night classes and share that knowledge. In my opinion, education yourself and educating others is a very important step to seeing true change in the world.
A lot of my Capstone process was deciding what I wanted to do. It has been challenging deciding what information I want on my website, what I should do to make sure that the information will help the most amount of people. What I have learned from my mistakes is that it is okay to change your mind, I’ve learned to not just settle with easy, in the end I want to be proud of my work.
One piece of advice for my younger Bonners is to PLEASE choose something you are passionate about and love! This project can be whatever you make of it and you will spend A LOT of hours on it so make it count! Also do not stress, it will come to you, you will change your mind just make sure to follow your gut. Also please keep to your deadlines and schedule time to work on your capstone in your gCal! Lastly enjoy it, time flies by and before you know it, you will be leaving.
I am serving at the Connect Center for Youth and we have been doing so many different things there. Currently, I have been working with my team to work on having service days, working on a social media plan, and more. I am also working on receiving donations from various schools for our summer programming. It is definitely not meeting my expectations. When they picked us to be there, we were assigned specific roles, and now those responsibilities have sort of gone out the window. We now do a lot of collaborative work on various projects. I would like to continue to work as a team to do what is best for the kids in our center. I have done a lot of learning self advocacy. I have had to tell them how I feel in some situations and had to stand up for myself and even my team. I am continuing to learn this skill, but I am proud of the work I have done. I am looking forward to continuing service next semester!
One lesson that I have learned during my capstone process is to be okay with change. I found that the idea that I had started with changed several times within the first month of working on my capstone. I am learning from my mistakes and I plan to take this with me in the future to realize that mistakes show learning is happening. One piece of advice that I have would be to do what you want and not what others may want for you.
Throughout the Capstone process, I have learned a lot of valuable lessons. In all honesty, my biggest lesson learned from the Capstone process is making your project manageable. As Bonners, we are often idealistic in our expectations for what we can achieve. Although it is awesome to have big plans for your Capstone project, at the end of the day, you want your final product to be concise and useful to the organization you are working with. Throughout my own Capstone project, I have experienced an abundance of changing ideas, twists, and turns. At one point, I recognized that I had to simplify my project and set reasonable goals that I could achieve. Now, at the end of my senior year, I can say that I have produced a Capstone project that I am proud of which is both connected to my academic interests and provides a useful deliverable to the nonprofit I collaborated with.
As I go through my Capstone project, I am learning the importance of reaching out and keeping people in the loop. Even though it is tempting to try to be independent, and try to accomplish our goals on our own, projects of this scale really are a group effort. I am grateful to be working with my friend Shriya from NExT, because we have been able to combine ideas efficiently for the training we are developing. I would advise Bonners to not be afraid to ask for help, and to find several people of expertise to reach out to in order to get lots of ideas that can ultimately further your research. I partook in several meetings with hospital staff, visited a domestic violence shelter, and met with many faculty members in order to obtain enough material to bolster my training. Also, do not be afraid of this process! As long as you pick a topic you are truly passionate about, it is not difficult to work through. I came in being afraid of the workload, but it has actually been one of my favorite parts of this semester.
Right now at FOR-NY, I am creating a sheet of recovery resources for LGBTQ+ youth that will be transferred to the FOR-NY website. I am also working on a presentation for a conference that I will be speaking at in June. Recently, there has been a change in staff and the director of policy, Allison, left. My supervisor Ben took her place and with the promotion, he is now a lot busier. Service at FOR-NY was always indirect and independent, but we had weekly meetings just with the YVM team that is not occurring anymore. Some weeks I have felt a little lost and worried to reach out, but I was able to express my feelings at a meeting last week and now am in a better place work-wise. Over time, I have gained more responsibility in terms of coordinating with FOR partners, creating presentations, and then actually presenting. I have severe imposter syndrome, so when I step outside my comfort zone, I feel like I do not belong in that position, but my site has helped with that extensively.
At my service site, The Spina Bifida Association, I am working on marketing strategies for the upcoming Walk-n-Roll event. This is much different than what I worked on last year because the event will be in person. I’m currently really enjoying getting to help out with the marketing team at SBANENY because it is something that is out of my comfort zone. I have always been drawn to more scientific elements of things and being able to develop new skills and work with individuals with a different mindset than myself has been really enjoyable. This semester at SBANENY has not been what I expected. New Bonners have joined our team which has been awesome to work with new people. With that, I have gained more leadership positions at my site since I have more experience than some of the other Bonners. I’m excited to continue the work at my site with the new members of the team and hopefully will gain more in the future to create more of a change that our supervisor is looking for.
I have learned a lot from the past Bonner classes that we have had. I think one that really stood out to me was our Cultural Appropriation and Fetishization class. This one stood out to me for many reasons, but the main one was how much of our history isn’t taught in schools because we don’t want to acknowledge our horrible past. When we discussed human zoos and fetishization I was horrified and angry that I had never heard or learned about these topics in school. I really wish that school’s made it more of a priority to teach students not only the good but the bad of our history, especially because much of it wasn’t that long ago and some aspects especially cultural appropriation and fetishization are extremely relevant today. I think the fetishization aspect of the training was also extremely interesting because I knew that racial fetishization was out there, but I didn’t know the extent. I think that it is typically considered a topic that is too ‘taboo’ and so as a society we choose not to acknowledge it, but I liked how we acknowledged it in Bonner and we learned how harmful it can be to many different groups. I think that this training and trainings like gentrification really show what our Wednesday meetings are supposed to be about and what makes Bonner so great. Going into diverse communities it is important that we educate ourselves on these types of issues and acknowledge the impact of our history and present. I especially like that we take these issues seriously and come into our meetings with an open mind and prepare ourselves to be comfortable with the uncomfortable.
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