As I have begun to look back over the past few years at W&L, thinking about the memories that have shaped my college experience, it’s remarkable to me how much my service in the community has really defined the course of my college career. The hours I have spent with the Campus Kitchen or tutoring at Maury River and Lylburn Downing or participating in Volunteer Venture and other service-related activities have provided me with more memories and certainly more lasting knowledge that most of my classes. I am beginning to realize just how much I am going to miss the people at the Magnolia Center and the kids at the Office on Youth, who I have grown to love over the past several years. Once I graduate, that routine of consistent service will be disrupted, and I do not think I realized what a crucial part of my life it has become until recently, when I am getting ready to leave it behind.
Part of this deep connection I feel to those I interact with during my service can be attributed to the longevity and intensity of my service. Thanks to the motivation of the Bonner Program to get me started, I have developed a certain attitude about service: it must be consistent and meaningful. I cannot make an impact on an organization if I am not a dedicated volunteer. I cannot serve someone if I am not intentional in my relationship with him or her. Service Learning, the Bonner Program, and the community have not only shown me how much fun it is to serve or how important it is to serve, but how to serve. Giving a client a plate of spaghetti is great, but serving the whole person by getting to know and building a friendship with him or her is much better. It is because of this attitude towards service that I have developed, realizing the potential it has to truly change lives, that I appreciate the Bonner Program so much. ~ Shiri Yadlin, ’12