Community Partner Reflections

#CapturingCommunity: Jennifer Lewis

Name: Jennifer Lewis
Role within Service-Learning: Community Member

What Organization do you Represent?: Roxbury Tenants of Harvard

How are your values expressed through your community engagement and Service-Learning work?
I value collaboration and partnerships which allow youth to experience different perspectives and grow beyond their expectations. Bringing together youth from the community and youth in colleges and universities which are also in the community increases the understanding of each other’s lives and experiences, challenges and privileges. I hope to increase interest in and access to the universities for community youth.

What is one thing everyone should know about Service-Learning?
Being present in the experience, letting go of expectations, and having an openness to learning and reflection is vital in getting the most out of the Service-Learning opportunity.

Did you find Service-Learning or did Service-Learning find you?
I heard about this program through exposure to Northeastern Crossing offerings and through the information passed on by a colleague at RTH. I attended the Discussion Series with Publicly-Engaged Scholar-in-Residence, Dr. Tim Eatman recently and greatly enjoyed it!

What is your favorite memory of Service-Learning?
The wealth of knowledge and depth of conversation in many of the sessions offered at this [Publicly Engaged Scholar-In-Residence] series was enlightening and inspiring. I really enjoy when folks come together across disciplines in work that shares common values and inter-sectional goals.

If Service-Learning were a color, what would it be and why?
Green, the color of growth

If Service-Learning were a food, what would it be and why?
A B.Good salad, with lots of interesting ingredients, like veggies, grains, nuts, dried fruits, and yummy dressings – good for you and a delicious mix of different flavors!

A Reflection on Service-Learning and Publicly Engaged Scholarship:

I have been working with communities of youth in Boston for 25+ years and have recently been impressed to find places where seemingly disparate entities come together around common goals and visions. This discussion series was one of these instances.

I spend most of my time with youth who are learning how to move through the world while discovering who they are and where they are truly seen and appreciated. I felt fortunate and grateful to be able to attend an educational series that would deepen my understanding of the perspective of folks coming from higher learning settings, as well as make some connections with people to increase our partnerships.

So often in our work with people or projects, we get stuck in our silos and forget to look up and see who might be traveling in the same direction, alongside us, maybe a lane over. It can be refreshing to hear that our intentions and aspirations are not so different. It is encouraging to hear that others also see the need to respect people and their real lives and experiences and not just see people as a problem, a statistic, or a means towards an end.

Working together, we can enrich each other’s lives, see each other as complete whole, valuable people, which in turn can create so many opportunities and solve so many problems. We have a lot to offer each other and Service-Learning is one vehicle that can get us there!

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