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Kaitlin Allanson

Team: Arsenal FC
Birdielee V. Bright Elementary
O. Aguilar/Grade 4

PA: Sasha Hondagneu-Messner

Course: Earthquakes (Geology 240)
September 23, 2015
Essay #1

Essay #1: Preflection

Approaching my JEP eight week course, I expect to experience the most change or
development in the first category: awareness of the community context. As a freshman from
northern California, I have very little knowledge of the area around Birdielee V. Bright
Elementary. Unfortunately I know almost nothing about how my region or the greater LA region
has been affected by history, geography, policy, or inequality. But fortunately, my lack of
knowledge also means incredible room for growth. I am excited and interested to learn about the
area outside of USC through direct contact with individuals who are true experts; locals, whether
teachers or students offer an incredible, deep, and authentic perspective on how their community
and the communities around them have been impacted by outside factors. I am eager to explore
in particular how policy affects the area around Birdielee V. Bright Elementary. Who is making
or has made the most impactful laws in this area? How do these laws affect the daily lives of
those in this area? And what types of policies do locals think are the most important in the years
to come? I think participating in JEP will allow me to most grow my knowledge of policy around
the area my school is located and answer these questions with thorough, clear, and
comprehensive answers. Therefore, my lack of knowledge of the University Park neighborhood
provides an opportunity and excitement to develop my awareness of the community context.
When I think about JEP, I also consider what makes me most nervous; what concerns me
most is how JEP places me so far outside of my comfort zone. While I worked extensively in
high school with younger children from low-income areas, USCs Joint Educational Project is
completely new for me. I have never organized lesson plans and presented those same lesson

plans to a class of eager students. I have never worked with such a small group of classmates to
run an entire classroom. And I have never engaged in service learning for the sake of improving
my own understanding of an educational topic. The novelty of these three things for me are
intimidating and a bit concerning. However, this nervousness and placement outside my comfort
zone also fosters a new skill set; to be successful, I will need to be ambitious, courageous, and
adventurous. I expect these skills to really develop during my time with JEP; I really believe the
three skills listed above come hand in hand with the type of program the Joint Educational
Project has been designed to be. I also expect that in spite of my inexperience using service to
improve my own academic understanding, this type of learning will deepen my knowledge of
earthquakes. Teaching a subject I am currently learning should develop my skills as a learner,
student, and teacher. Therefore, while I am nervous to tackle a new program, which forces me
into an environment new and perhaps a bit daunting, I am also ready for the skill set the
experience will solidify and the greater academic depth it will provide.