Our participant blog posts are written by volunteers on this year’s Yahel Social Change Program. They write about their experiences as participants and their reflections on the work they do in Gedera. This week’s post is written by Rachel Jetter.
The term “social bubble” is not a new concept to anyone involved in non-profit or social justice work or to anyone who has ever taken a sociology course. The “social bubble” refers to a lifestyle in which people engage in or are aware of very little outside of their day-to-day interactions. Without the worries or curiosity of the world outside of the bubble, life is physically and mentally comfortable and stable. Even short stints of outside engagement, such as traveling, volunteering at the local community center, or picking up a newspaper once in a while don’t disturb the familiarity of the bubble. However, spending an extended period of time volunteering in a community different from my own has provided me with an exposure to the world and to a new perspective of life that I believe everyone should experience.
In Israel, the majority of young adult spends a minimum of 1-3 years doing some form of national or civil service; it often takes the form of serving in the army, but it can also include working with children at risk or assisting elders. During this time, Israelis are taken outside of the bubble they grew up in and learn that to be a part of a society, one must hold themselves accountable for the success of their society. During their service, they often experience the world outside of their bubble and they begin to understand what role they play in it.
In America, we have volunteer organizations such as AmeriCorps, CityYear, and Habitat for Humanity which engage with young adults who are mostly already engaged and interested in social change; what if we ALL had a year, 6 months, or even a summer serving our country through these organizations? I wonder how my generation would look like. Would we be more confident in our desired life paths and in ourselves? Would we have changed our majors fewer times in college? Would we feel more invested in our society? Would we be more involved in the world around us?
Over the last 6 months I have been exposed to new cultures, languages, and sense of religious importance. I have experienced how taxing it is to start an initiative truly from the bottom-up. I have grappled in-depth what it means to be an immigrant in a state that is geographically unique and what that means in terms of diversity. I have gained new understandings and applications of the words selfless, privilege, and empathy. I realize that every war, cultural mentality, geographical border, and legal decision can affect me somehow and I look at the world around me more openly and curiously than ever. Due to this significant amount of time spent serving a people and a nation, I have been socially changed.