What Does It Mean To Be Civically Engaged?

Jedidah Groseclose

Civic 101

I believe being civically engaged allows our community to uphold values and provides a way for citizens to show their attitudes and morals through actions. Those who are actively engaged in the community create a huge impact on the people around them, whether they realize it or not. From a young age I have been influenced by people who were intentional and loved being a part of the community. The first introduction to civic minded people I can remember would be VBS at my church. There were dozens of volunteers who came together to make it possible for kids from all over to have a week of fun. When I got older, I also started volunteering for summer camps and VBS-like things because I saw the value it held. In highschool, I played soccer. The coaches and assistants we had were not paid, but they willingly gave their time to helping us improve and grow in something we loved. Volunteers like these showed me how just giving some of your time to other people is just as important, or even more than monetary amounts.

Before taking Civic 101, I volunteered at a hospital in a junior volunteer program. We were assigned to various placements that allowed us to learn about the hospital and help the people who make it work. I think that large corporations or organizations that provide students with opportunities to be involved are incredibly beneficial. They allow us to experience and try different careers and get a taste of what we might want to pursue. This means that once we can begin to envision what we want our future to look like and what we enjoy or where we see ourselves. I also got involved with an organization known as Love Africa. While this was not a community based program, engaging with people from other countries encouraged me to want to make a difference where I am. Personally I enjoy engaging abroad a lot, but it helps me gain a new perspective that I can bring back home with me.

During this class, the point was made that civic engagement does not have to be volunteer work. It can be anything that has to do with engaging with any part of the community. It is a very broad and wide-ranging concept. Basing my future civic engagement on this definition, I want to make sure that I get to know the people around me. I think it’s important to be aware of the people around you and the ways you can help. I think this can vary from helping people study to handing out food to the homeless.

Working at Artsphere through the work study program at Drexel has been an amazing opportunity. It has broadened my perspective on how I can be civically active. It has also showed me the possibility of incorporating more alternative and engaging methods into teaching. Artsphere allowed me to become engaged in the Philadelphia community by giving me the opportunity to bring art to elementary after school classes. I not only got to know the kids, but I got to hear their stories, see their interests, and watch their talents grow. I had an awesome time getting to experience Artsphere’s along with my class, and seeing the effect on the community that putting visions into action has.

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