The Culture of Community Service Between MaP and Catlin

posted in
Send by email

Comparing Maru a Pula to Catlin in  the past few days has given me some new insights into just how different the culture is between the two schools. Compared to Catlin's quietly-friendly students, MaP kids are more outgoing than you could imagine. They also (no offense Catlin kids),  just seem genuinely happier. Maybe it's because their school day only lasts until 1:00pm and they're less wrapped up in their school work, maybe because they aren't distracted by as many things in the outside world, but these kids seem to have an unexplainable joy for everything they do. One of the core elements of the school's curriculum is community service. Unlike the individual based, 15 hour service requirement at Catlin, service at MaP is a community activity that is built into the curriculum and meant to create long lasting relationships. 15 hours per year is almost nothing. That's three hours a day for one school week to complete the requirement. Despite that, a lot of students struggle to find a meaningful service program. Of course, there are many students that devote much of their school year to service, building a long term relationship with the people they're serving. But at Maru a Pula, that's less of a choice; service is not just a requirement, but truly ingrained in the culture of the school. For each term at MaP (there are four terms with month-long breaks inbetween), students sign up for a service activity either on campus or off campus. The on campus actvities include cleaning the science labs or maintaining the grounds, but some of the more popular activities are off campus, like working with disadvantaged kids in the local community. When students do service work, they don't go on their own. Instead, a small bus takes a group of students to and from the organization. To me, this makes the process and logistics of service work seem much more manageable and inviting. Also unlike Catlin, the value of service as an extracurricular activity ranks equal to that of sports and clubs. In the afternoon, each student participates in a club, sport, or service. And while some students might commit all five school days to service, and some only one or two, the attitude towards community service makes it seem like less of a chore or even duty, and more of a value that is ingrained  in each of the students.