STRIVE Community Opens Doors

My time as a STRIVE member and Community Assistant changed my belief in a common misconception many people have about community service: those that receive the service benefit more than those who serve. I now know both parties have equal benefits.

The Serving Together Reaching Integrity, Values & Engagement Community (STRIVE)  is a living and learning community coordinated by the Butler Center for Service and Leadership and Pearson Residential College. Participants in the STRIVE program are committed to civic engagement, volunteer service and leadership endeavors. Residents participating in this highly selective community commit to a lifestyle of a number of service and leadership hours each week, a mentoring relationship, for-credit academic classes and a number of shared experiences and campus programs.

My perception of community service first shifted during a STRIVE day of service hosted by Students Working for Equal Rights (SWER) at a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) clinic. STRIVE members consulted undocumented immigrants about the paperwork they needed to include in their differed action application.

Through conversations with applicants and SWER volunteers, I gained a basic understanding of the complexity of the current immigration climate in the United States.

In just one morning, I explored a social issue I previously never imagined pursuing.

Since that morning, my curiosity for immigration issues has been impossible to contain. This semester, I enrolled in an immigration policy class and am the associate producer of “Not Even a Number” – a documentary about the impact of DACA in South Florida.

Volunteering these few hours with SWER has changed my life. The SWER volunteers I have become friends with have served as invaluable resources for my immigration class and “Not Even a Number” project.

Had it not been for STRIVE, I wouldn’t have recognized that community service has just as many benefits to those serving as it does to those who receive the benefits of the direct service. And I would have never found my passion for immigration issues in America.

To sign up for STRIVE, complete the application on UM’s Special Interest Housing page. Applications for the 2013-2014 school year are due Friday, March 8, 2013.

Post Written By:
Nick Swyter
STRIVE Community Assistant
n.swyter@umiami.edu

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The Happiness Principle

College consists of a ridiculous amount of stress and nerves. And I’m guessing we can all agree on that. Sometimes it’s tough to see past the fog that is classes, work, a social life, student organizations, future expectations…at the list goes on.

There is even a new term called the Quarter-Life Crises that furthers our inevitable college depression. But this doesn’t have to be the case!

So how do we alleviate these stressful feelings? Be Happy!

That is pretty clear, but the big question is: How? What is one sure fire way to deal with that stress and to make yourself a happier person? The answer: Service! I know that this answer seems pretty obvious coming from the Butler Center for Service and Leadership, but there is proof!

Positive Psychology is the idea that instead of trying to be “normal” and “regular,” try to be happy and positive.

Make happiness be the new normal.

Instead of accepting the stress of life, learn how to eliminate it and change your priorities. Positive psychologists make a career in researching how to make people happier. We clearly can’t expect to be happy at all times, but there is a way to squeeze happiness into your daily routine – just like brushing your teeth!

According to an article in Time Magazine, a quality that increases happiness is altruism, or helping out other people. When you are constantly thinking about when your next paper is due or how you are going to become that future millionaire, just take a break! Pause and volunteer to distract yourself from your own worries and cares to help someone else. It makes your worries seem small and insignificant and introduces a happier and more meaningful feeling into your life.

“Another happiness booster, say positive psychologists, is performing acts of altruism or kindness — visiting a nursing home, helping a friend’s child with homework, mowing a neighbor’s lawn, writing a letter to a grandparent. Doing five kind acts a week, especially all in a single day, gave a measurable boost…”

Time Magazine

This quote screams service! By serving others – by paying it forward once in a while – you indirectly become more positive and those daily stresses seem to just float away.

But why does service make us feel so happy?

“Giving makes you feel good about yourself . . . When you’re volunteering, you’re distracting yourself from your own existence, and that’s beneficial. More fuzzily, giving puts meaning into your life. You have a sense of purpose because you matter to someone else.”

– Time Magazine

As you can see, the answer to escaping the quarter-life crisis is to volunteer. Serve with your fellow students and change your perspective on life.

Take a breather: laugh and be kind. Help those who need it and you can help yourself.

And guess what? There’s an app for that! Making yourself happier has been brought into the 21st century with the help of www.happier.com. Happier is a simple and beautiful way to collect and share happy moments with people you care about.

Post Written By:
Riana Brown
Butler Center Student Assistant
r.brown18@umiami.edu

Slacktivism

During a phone conversation with a friend of mine, I was explaining to her my job at the Butler Center for Service and Leadership. I told her I typically help with volunteer coordination for service opportunities both on and off the University of Miami campus. I explained to her that I try to find new and fun ways to get students volunteering in the Miami community.

I mentioned that it’s difficult to get students off-campus, but I’m not really sure why. I explained the South Beach Effect (the many other activities and events happening in Miami), the lack of transportation, students’ busy schedules and many other reasons.

Whatever the reason, University of Miami students are not living up to their fullest volunteering potential.

My friend described to me a new phenomenon among young people today: slactivism.

Slactivism describes people who “support” an issue or social cause but their actions have little or no practical effect on the issue other than to make themselves feel some amount of satisfaction.

These acts tend to require minimal personal effort. Basically, slactivism is the idea that by liking, sharing, tweeting, or pinning something in a virtual space over social media, you are helping out in the real world.

We are all guilty of this new phenomenon, but ask yourself if you are really making a difference by sharing posts via social media. Raising awareness and shedding light on social issues around the world are great things, but if we aren’t actually going out and doing work, then we aren’t doing all we can do.

Raising awareness is only half the battle.

So for all of you, right now, who are sharing photos on Facebook or re-tweeting statistics of children living in poverty,go look up some of the really cool local non-profit organizations that need your help right now!

Branches: www.sflum.org

YES Institutie: www.yesinstitute.org

Tropical Audubon Society: www.tropicalaudubon.org

Zen Village: www.zenvillage.org

Doctor’s Hospital: juliaw@baptisthealth.net

All of these organizations are within walking distance of campus or are metro accessible. The William R. Butler Center for Service and Leadership is always here to help you make connections with this organizations. So stop by our office and come talk to me or anyone of us that work here. We are always looking for ways to get UM students involved in the community!

Post Written By:
Audrey Kidwell
AmeriCorps VISTA
a.kidwell@umiami.edu

LeaderShape Institute of South Florida

LeaderShape was the turning point of my college career.

Last August, I attended LeaderShape with 11 other UM students who were total strangers to me. Now, they are my friends.

LeaderShape is a 6-day conference and retreat that is both challenging and fun. Getting out of my comfort zone for a week was a real eye-opener and emotional experience. Knowing that things that seem impossible can become possible as long as you try and try again was a tough concept for me to grasp.

LeaderShape 2012

The most influential part of the whole conference was the day we talked about our personal values. I still have the LeaderShape book with the page about defining your values marked.

“Never forget your core values, and always stick to them.”

This lesson made the whole journey come together and be worthwhile. Happiness, reputation, and autonomy are my core values. I look for those qualities in others and conduct my life according to those measures.

Limitless Team

Besides all the continual learning throughout the week, the friends I made, the fun I had, and the person I found within myself is what my LeaderShape experience was all about.

The Butler Center for Service and Leadership is currently accepting applications to the 2013 LeaderShape Institute. Applicats are due by Friday, March 8.

Post Written By:
Connor Adams
Butler Center Student Assistant
c.adams6@umiami.edu

Seeing and Not Seeing

Seeing is a way of not seeing.

Once you see something or hear someone’s story, it cannot be unseen or unheard. You have an obligation to respond and act on what you see, hear, feel and experience.

As individuals who connect to each other through the universal thread of humanity, our understanding of the world and our global family are shaped by our individual experiences, all of which connect with one another.

It is often through service that we are able to interact with our universal society. But I think it is important to first define what service means.

To me, service is a form of leadership in which you empower others to be their own agents of change and see life as a whole and oneness through the individuals you interact with.

Service is not fixing the lives of those you see as broken and in need of repair. Instead, service is the act of working with the passions of those who surround you to grow as an individual and global community.

It is through this reciprocal nature of service that leadership emerges.

Service not only allows people to kindle a fire within those they serve, but also one within themselves. This fire acts as a voice inside of you that tells you that there is something worth fighting for rather than merely watching. And it is when you channel that spirit and translate it into social action and active citizenship  that you truly realize that oneness of service and leadership.

Service renews and strengthens individuals as active and engaged citizens. It provides context and sense of responsibility to stay engaged in the global family that defines you as an individual.

The suffering of those you interact with becomes your own suffering, and you strive to alleviate it in order to comfort and alleviate yourself. It is about pursuing the knowledge in the mind with conviction in the heart.

Each and every one of us has a story and a reason to fight for what we believe in. We as a global thread, a thread of humanity, are connected and responsible to one another. And it is through service that we reach out to the far-extended members of our global family.

Service is a relationship between equals. Service is leadership.

Post Written By:
Meera Nagarsheth
Butler Center Student Assistant
m.nagarsheth@umiami.edu