Public service has the potential to change lives. Not only those on the receiving side, but those giving. In 2012, I called the California School for the Blind to initiate a campaign to donate several ergs to the school. It wasn’t until I looked back at this community service project, that I began to understand how it changed my life.
1. Words have meaning
When you are communicating with another it is essential that you create and maintain trust. Trust is incremental to gain and quick to lose. If we continuously fulfill this dialogue, trust will be built; however, if we do not fulfill what we say, trust will be diminished, quickly. You’ve probably seen a Hollywood film with a dysfunctional father who continues to promise to attend his son’s sporting events, yet never shows up. Each communication (every small thing that we say to others) is an opportunity to earn trust.
2. Memory is a powerful force.
The students could remember so many things, even items from conversations that we had 6 months prior. Their memories could place and recollect my weekend plans, my colleagues and even my favorite songs. I had to do some serious soul searching when I forgot the name of one of my favorite CSB students. It had been 6 months since I had seen her last, but the look on her face was pure disappointment. I came to understand that I had been failing my own memory. Memory has the capacity to impress or disappoint others. Since volunteering at the CSB, I have focused on finding increased capacity to my own memory.
A few brain games:
- Your brain has more dendrites (10^17) than grains of sand on earth.
- Your memory works well with visual imagery and faces. In a study of children and adults across the board, they recognized 98% of faces shown to them 6 weeks prior.
3. Watch, do, listen
There are three primary ways that we learn: visual, haptic and verbal. A blind student only has access to two of these mediums. It means that a good communicator must be very clear about verbal requests and comments. In the world outside the CSB, people can get away without giving their words purpose our clarity (in part due to visual communication.) While teaching at the CSB, I learned that being crystal clear in verbal communication was essential to providing feedback and purpose.