Campus News

Editorial: What does Bethel’s focus on “service” really mean?

 -  -  16


service Editor’s note: the opinions expressed in the following article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Beacon or its staff as a whole. If you Google “why is service important?” you will get the automatic response: “Psychological benefits: Volunteering increases overall life satisfaction and helps you feel good about yourself because you are helping others. It can also help to decreases stress and ease depression.” But I believe that service is something deeper than that. I went into service because I wanted to help others. Growing up, I could not help my friends when they were hurt, abused and broken. Every day, I heard their stories, and cried because I could not make sure that people would not hurt them at night. I was small and the people who were hurting them were big. But when I grew up, I found that I could volunteer and I could help those who used to be in that position. This is how I learned that the purpose of service is to increase someone else’s life, not my own. On the Bethel College website, it states that there are “more than 22,000 hours of community service volunteered by Bethel students during the academic year.” Since this issue is so important to me, I went on a mission to find out, first of all, if this was true, and secondly, what kinds of ideas Bethel students have to improve this number. Tyler Grant, director of Semester Abroad and Task Force, answered my question about the 22,000 hours of service Bethel claims to have every school year. "(The 22,000 service hours has) actually has been one thing that I’ve questioned partly because…to me, volunteer means you are not compensated in any way,” said Grant, “so those numbers are true for me. As far as I know as we consider it community service… it’s not necessarily something that is exclusively a Bethel program, but is just anything that we capture that (involves) our students serving the community. So, teaching Sunday school at their church, or doing student teaching. Grant continued, “A lot of those hours come from man-hours on Service Day, Labor For Your Neighbor and a lot of other events that Bethel puts on.” Grant also stated, “There were a lot of things that we did that were mostly Bethel students getting off campus. Part of it for me is that if it feels like a bubble, you’re doing it wrong. So, if you want Bethel students serving, to me, that value is in serving people who aren’t like us… I (would) much rather us serve non-Christians. People who aren’t ‘Bethel-ly.’” After taking surveys of people on Bethel’s campus, I discovered that almost every person said that work and school work were the main things that kept them from volunteering more. I came up with a possible solution: what if Bethel’s Friday chapel held volunteering opportunities near campus instead of having a speaker? “I absolutely love that idea,” said Trina Uzlik, junior American Sign Language interpreting major. “I do think that, if they decide to this, which I really think they should, they should make it where we have different opportunities to go to different places and make it so we could go to one place this week, and then a different place the next week, so that it’s always changing and it’s always giving us new opportunities to connect to different people and to do different jobs, and see what we like and what we don’t like, and how we can better serve our community in the future. We find what we like to do in that. I think it would be an awesome idea to send people out for an hour every week just to places around here and have us do a little bit of community service for thirty minutes.” Octavian Tuturu suggested that, instead of every Friday, to go “every other Friday and just test it out first before you just jump into it.” Freshman Gabby Perkins also desired to strike a balance between time and volunteering. “I’m involved a lot," she said. "I don’t go out that much because I come to school at 8:00 and I don’t leave until 11:00. I wish they would have a class for volunteering… I feel like kids...especially freshmen, don’t know their way around, (or) don’t know how to do anything, so they're like, ‘school, school, school,’ and they don’t really have time to do things.” Many students today are bombarded with jobs, family and clubs. Time balancing is tricky, yet volunteering is necessary to society. Service has an impact on Bethel because, as senior Rachel Najdek said, it “broadens our bubble and helps us to reach out to people who you wouldn’t usually talk to, or wouldn’t meet up with.” “I think sometimes we think that, ‘Oh, we have Service Day again’ or ‘Oh, my block has to go serve,’" said Natasha Johnson, "but when we actually go serve, it instills a servant’s heart that we have. I know sometimes I will be like, ‘I don’t want to go do this,’ but once I get there, I actually want to help these people. I want to go do these things for whoever I’m serving.” How has service impacted your life? Have you made impacting relationships through service? Is there a way to clear out your schedule to love your neighbors?
bookmark icon