Interview of Sidwell Friends School Student
Rose Howell

Interviewer: Please describe what your community service project entailed.
Rose: I worked with a service group in War, West Virginia, called Big Creek People in Action. We helped local people in poverty to fix their houses, basically doing anything we could from digging to hammering to sawing to painting.

Interviewer: What was most rewarding for you?
Rose: The most rewarding part for me was realizing how easy it is to improve someone's life, bring some hope and have fun all while doing a service project. I enjoyed working with the group leaders and the kids.

Interviewer: What was the most challenging aspect of your community service?
Rose: The most challenging part of the service was to not get frustrated with some of the beliefs that the people had that were very different from mine. We went to visit a coal mine and I was horrified that one of the workers said that he didn't care if the coal mine was polluting the air and that he would support the president who will keep the coal mines thriving without restrictions because it allowed him to have a fancy life, with "two cars". I had to really struggle with this attitude because I knew that he wanted to maintain his own life style at all costs, not caring about the future, not even his own. I was struck by the dangerous ignorance that often angers me in the newspapers but which I now encountered firsthand. I realized that although we were helping these people, this was only the tip of the iceberg—there is so much more that needs to be done to end poverty, poor education, unemployment, and pollution.

Interviewer: What lessons did you learn as a result of your community service?
Rose: One of the main lessons I learned was about teamwork. There are different roles you have to be able to play when you want to get something done. Sometimes you have to step-up and be the leader, and sometimes you have to follow the leader and work really hard to follow his/her instructions. Otherwise, nothing will get done. It's a matter of give and take involving lots of trust.

Interviewer: Would you recommend it to others? If so, why? If not, why not?
Rose: Yes, I would definitely recommend it! As you can see, I learned a lot and had a lot of fun, while making an impact.

Rose Howell at a coal mine at Big Creek People in Action