After completing the University Studies program at Portland State University that aims at developing student’s inquiry, critical thinking, diversity, ethical and social responsibility, and communication, I have considerably deepen my understanding of responsibility, both ethical and social. This capstone class, the final class of my curriculum, gives me an opportunity to not only demonstrate the gained knowledge and skills, but also share the experience with the other students and, probably, help another person find the just right way. I have worked as a Volunteer Leader with Hands on Greater Portland.
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This model of volunteering has been created in 1996 as a circle of friends who tried to make this world better and be helpful to lots of people, sick and disable children in particular. With time, Hands on Greater Portland has become rather a successful model. Numerous projects, such as Civic Leaders, have been added during the last decade.
Such programs provide people with the opportunities to change the world, make a difference, and gain understanding of numerous issues. From my own experience in Hands on Greater Portland, after numerous readings and class discussions, now, it is easy for me to give a clear explanation to ethical and social responsibility, and compare it with social justice and civic leadership.
To start my writing, I would like to clear up two major notions: ethics and social responsibility. Ethics is a person’s belief about what is right and what is wrong. Unfortunately, not every person cares too much about ethical issues. People take one position taking into account own moral principles only. This is why the explanation of ethics may differ person to person. In its turn, social responsibility is a kind of ethical behavior. Social responsibility helps to enhance society in general.
At the beginning of my practice, I was not sure that I knew everything about social and ethics responsibility. To my mind, the variety of teachers’ strategies prevents students from clear understanding of issues concerning ethics and social responsibility. With the help of my practice in Hands on Greater Portland, it becomes a bit easier to clear up the goals of ethical and social responsibility. The goals have a certain connection to the service projects taking by the members of Hands on Greater Portland. The purposes are to respect oneself, to respect the others, and to respect the place, you live in.
The essence of ethics and social responsibility is the understanding of how your actions and your behavior affect the other people. It is necessary to realize that you are responsible for everything you do. This is what social justice is also about. This is what I have learnt during my practice. What do we know about just society? Is it a myth or it is something real? The answer to this question I also want to find during my classes and practice. Lots of people prefer to live in just society.
However, numerous ideologies and standpoints prevent this very idea of social justice. This is why each personality should, first, think about own actions and their consequences and then pay attention to the actions of other people, and help them. Such ideas and understanding of the matter is the major issues that I have learnt during this class. When the class is over, I try to do everything possible in order to change my life and be useful for the others.
It is also necessary to underline the influence of readings and other activities during the classes. Their influence is great indeed. It is not that easy to visit the first class and get a clear understanding of what, when, and how should be done. With the help of illustrative examples, described in the educative books and brochures, it was not that difficult for me to choose the right actions. Class discussions and activities with my fellows played a significant role to me.
I come to the conclusion that it is better to get an understanding of ethics and social responsibility while talking and analyzing everything with some other people. The philosophy of every people is unique indeed. When a person makes decisions independently, it is impossible to consider the points of view of other people. During numerous conversations and after taking into consideration the material from the books, I was ready to present my own position concerning ethics and social responsibility and prove it, and, at the same time, pay attention to principles of other people and their standpoints.
My work as a Volunteer Leader helped me give insight into civic leadership in many ways. For example, the program concerning reduce, recycle, and reuse the material is great indeed. Teens have a good opportunity to think over possible ways on how the already used building material can be reused. Interesting hands-on projects, after school mentors programs, and help for sick children – this is what rouse my interest a lot. From the very first days, I realized that such work was something that I could really like.
Now, I also understand that ethics and social responsibility have lots in common with civic leadership. All of them support and facilitate work between students and children, encourage students to live enlightened lives full of interesting events, develop the sensitivity to human condition, deepen the understanding of social issues, their complexity, and importance, provide leadership opportunities, and promote understanding of global citizenship.
Studied theory and practice also helped me distinguish certain ethical tradeoffs in the frames of social responsibility and justice. It is known that conflicts and misunderstandings between people may bring to unbelievable results: quarrels in families, divorces, loneliness, losses, and even wars. To my mind, one of the most important ethical tradeoff is the ability to listen to the ideas of other people, take them into consideration, compare them with the own ones, think over each details, and not make fast decisions.
Such approach for deciding problems of society is good, however, not every person can boast with such self-control and abilities to help the other control the situation. This is why it can be really great if at classes, students get opportunities to not only demonstrate the abilities and knowledge, but also study how to solve conflicts and help other people do the same. All this is possible by means of communication, discussion, evaluation, and deep analysis.
Such class activities also helped me clear up the purposes of my life and ideas for my future career. As it has been already mentioned, the purpose of ethics and social responsibility is the idea of respect. Its understanding has a great value to me. When a person grows up, his/her values, moral principles, and preferences can be changed.
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Such changes are usually caused by political, economical, and religious ideologies that considerably influence people’s life. To stay loyal to own principles and consider the ideas of people surround you is not easy. It is impossible to create one concrete system and make everyone follow it. This is why it is better to learn and be able to respect each other and be ready to help.
There are lots of things, which I would like to take away with me after this capstone class. This practice, the abilities, and knowledge, I have gained, mean a lot to me. There are so many people who have lots of interesting ideas and really good intentions. Unfortunately, not every one knows about such a good program as Hands on Greater Portland. This service helps students develop personal abilities and critical thinking. As for me, this practice and the classes were great.
I have learnt how to communicate with people about different issues and be involved in any conversation, how to help people and choose unique ways to achieve the desirable goal, how to plan and organize my actions in order to change the world somehow and make someone a bit happier.
To my mind, students have to take such practices at this very age – it is not too late to learn something new and change own moral principles, and it is just the time when students can accept and analyze all the necessary information in a proper way. So, the activities and information I have learnt during the class will be rather helpful to me in future in order to become a person who will be respected by people.