Gexx in Knoxville

This blog is about Gexx, in Knoxville

Obama signs “Serve America Act”

Posted by Gexx on April 21, 2009

I have a few issues with some high school and college “resume builders,” especially with the missionary/service trips to some “tropical” place.  Students ask for money from their church/community to pay for these trips, and they attempt to pass these experiences off as “more impressive” than their peers who stay at home and work a summer job. As an aside, when I picked my interns at my federal job, I made sure to balance these work-vacations against the real skills learned.  I discovered that they really didn’t have the work ethic that I needed.

These trips tend to charge a premium for these kids to travel to Costa Rica to bring fresh water to a village (for part of the trip) and then for the rest of the trip to experience the tourist side of Costa Rica/Guatemala/Thailand/etc.  The way these programs get kids is twofold.  First, while these causes portray the people they are helping as desperately in need, which often times they are, these causes also other the individuals being helped.  They instead seem subhuman because they are living in such poor conditions.  Then, these organizations lure the students with travel to exotic/tropical destinations, a carrot in front of the nose.

My issue with these are:

1- Much of the money collected from the community goes toward the travel to this destination and to the “fun” stuff the students do.  If the organization collected money to pay local workers, the community would be more stable.

2-  Students could stay closer to home, spend less money, and help the same amount of people.  The United States has its own homeless and poverty.

I feel that when the United States proves that it has the infrastructure to care for its own people and environment, then it will truly be able to lead other nations in removing poverty.

This is why I am so excited about Obama signing the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.  JFK started the idea of the Peace Corps, where concientious objectors could positively influence the infrastructure of other nations and recieved remunerations, just like if they were in the Army.  From this came Americorps, a program similar in goals and pay to the Peace Corps, but the participants stayed within the United States.

One reason Obama appealed to me (other than not being Bush) was his experiance as a community organizer.  He was able to relate to and identify with those who were not in the upper class.  He also realized the influence that normal people could have on bettering communities and the importance of every voice.  He also recognized that when citizens become invested in their communities, then the communities show long-term benefits.

He highlighted this aspect of himself in signing this act.  While Ted Kennedy is not my favorite person in the White House (the whole white/male/elite priviledge being flaunted during the fatal car wreck), I do realize that he is a strong and socially liberal voice in the Senate.

This act provides for more money for Americorps.  Students working through Americorps, because money outside of a stipend  is given as a scholarship to the school directly and not as a check to the student, will both accrue service hours that many colleges look for in applications and have a scholarship to assist them in deferring college tuition, fees, and books.

As a disclaimer, the reason I made my way from New York to Tennessee is because of an Americorp program through the Student Conservation Association. It gave me the experiance to solidify my career goals from the amorphis cloud of possibilities as well as the strengths to reach them.

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