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Anthony Hanna

Honors Service Learning Journal Entries: SOC 2000

Entry 1: Sts. Peter and Paul Syriac Orthodox Church 10/16/16 11:00 AM12:30 PM
Today I start my Sunday School Volunteering at Sts. Peter and Paul
Syriac Orthodox Church in Southfield, Michigan. Since I was already so
involved with the youth organization at the church, being the former vicepresident, it was easy for me to obtain this position as a temporary teacher.
This week I was placed at the table with grades three through five. At the
table always sits a donation jar, where kids can place their donations for the
Sunday school committee so they may fund the supplies as well as an end of
the year field trip. However, not everyone can go to this event. In order to
qualify, you must attend a certain amount of Sunday school sessions and on
top of that, must be a participating student. I find this to be an excellent way
to motivate the kids to read and learn about their faith. As kids started to sit
down, one by one they place their one dollar bills into the jar, and at that
point we were ready to begin the lesson. We were to study out of the
workbook on what it meant to be a good Christian. I had the kids alternate
readers, eventually finishing the lesson so we could discuss what we learned.
I was surprised at the level of wisdom of some of these kids. After coming to
church week after week learning things about morality, faith, and respect,

they have adopted this proper way of life that Christianity attempts to teach
its followers. We then went through a crossword puzzle that included words
and definitions from our reading in the work book. This was challenging for
the kids, and I had to walk them through each definition. After we completed
the assignment, I had the students practice their sign of the cross, a
trademark symbol of the Christian faith. After we studied the symbolic
interactionalist perspective in class and read about it in the
textbook, I have been curious and intrigued in the symbols of
religion, including the sign of the cross. The Symbolic Interactionist
perspective is the idea that us humans construct symbols that we
attribute specific concepts to. The Orthodox Christian faith places
much emphasis on symbols and their meanings. The entire mass
that is held on Sunday is a symbol, where certain acts are
performed in order to indicate biblical events. The church holds
hundreds of crosses all around the hall and alter. These crosses
symbolize salvation, redemption, and the forgiveness of sin. The
rituals, symbols, and gestures of the church all play a part in the
formation of the social group, and its beliefs. Once the assignment was
complete, the Sunday school teachers gathered their students and took
them upstairs to the church where Father Edward gives his sermon of the
day. Volunteering today showed me how great the Sunday school system is.
It is a huge agent of socialization that leads the kids in the right
direction towards a better life. Drawing upon knowledge from class, I

also made connections on the symbols in the church and how they promote
common beliefs and customs amongst parishioners.

Entry 2: Sts. Peter and Paul Syriac Orthodox Church 10/23/16 11:00 AM12:30 PM
This was my second time servicing the Sunday school at Sts. Peter and
Paul Syriac Orthodox Church, and I couldnt wait to get started on it. Today I
was assigned the same grade levels as my first day, the third to fifth graders.
I recognized a few faces from before, and noticed also that there are some
new students that werent with us last week. A total of 10 kids were seated
at my table which made me somewhat nervous. Who am I to be teaching
these kids about the bible? Arent Individuals who are well versed in their
faith supposed to be doing this? I did question myself in the beginning, but I
had confidence in my faith and knowledge of the topics. We then started our
lesson of the day which was the story of John the Baptist. I had the kids read
the lesson, and made sure everyone had a chance to read. However, there
was one girl who was hesitant, and it turned out that she did not know much
English. I asked the one of the coordinators and they told me that she just
moved here from Syria and she doesnt know much English. I thought I could
handle it so I continued the lesson and tried to help the student as much as I
could. However, the language barrier between us caused strain and
teaching her was difficult for I do not know Arabic fluently. This

demonstrates a critical sociological topic that we discussed in class:


language. Language is essential for any for any type of
communication, whether its verbal or nonverbal. Without it, there is
no way of sharing the past present and future. Without a common
language, effective information translation is compromised. With
the student, she was unable to learn any of the topics that we
discussed in the class. After the activity, we began to clean up and
started headed upstairs to the sermon of the day. Since the church
is a Syriac Orthodox Therefore not all the sermons are in English,
some are translated into Arabic so the foreign parishioners can
understand as well. This weeks sermon was in Arabic, and I could
see that many of the students in my class started to doze off due to
the fact that that they could not understand what our priest was
talking about. This is another key indicator of how language is a
critical aspect of communication and socialization. If we analyze the
Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, we can conclude that reality is embedded
in language. The culture of those individuals who do not speak
English and are limited to Arabic have differing perceptions of the
world than the more Americanized people. This week during Sunday
School I realized an important notion; Language is essential for
communication which is essential for the formulation of culture. Especially in
the Syriac Orthodox denomination, many people come from overseas like
Iraq and Syria, and have not yet been assimilated into the American culture.

Therefore, tension may be present between individuals due to the strain of


language as well as differing world views.

Entry 3: 826 Michigan 10/24/16 3:20-5:30 PM


Today I volunteered at 826 Michigans branch in Ann Arbor Michigan.
This program gave me an opportunity to engage in the community by
tutoring and assisting younger kids, grades up to senior year of high school,
and learning more about the mind of a kid as well as how this community
functions as a unit. As I walked into the tutoring area, which is located in the
center of Downtown Ann Arbor, I noticed the comfort and friendliness that
this establishment emits. Tutors come in at 3:15 and get settled at their
desired table. Here is where I was told to write down my name and what
subjects I am comfortable helping kids with. Being a science and math guy, I
marked those 2 boxes as well as the social studies area just because I
believe I can still be of help when it comes to that subject. As the kids started
rolling in, the coordinators, asked them what kind of homework they had,
and depending on their answer, they placed them with a specific tutor. My
first student was a kid named Joe. Being in the fifth grade, math was just
starting to get very challenging for the kids. Joe and me started working on
his math homework, which included factors. Surprisingly, these problems
where challenging! I knew most of them, but some I had trouble solving. This
demonstrated to me that even though we may be older and wiser, children

and younger adults minds work in different ways then older individuals do.
For example, his homework included story problems which required critical
thinking and an extensive imagination. I couldnt grasp the problem so I
changed the wording up so I could make sense of it, however this created
another issue, Joe didnt understand my method of solving the problem. His
mind is built for creativity and imaginative thinking, so story problems are
easier for him grasp unlike myself. Im not sure if this is just Joe and not the
other kids his age, however it was interesting nonetheless. Joe also had some
behavioral issues. Disrupting me when Im explaining something, he began
to talk about random topics. This made the assignment much longer that it
had to be. Tying this to the topics we learned in sociology, the agents
of socialization seems logical. When we talked about how kids to
lose intimate relationships with their mothers if they spend too
much time in day care or an after school program where they are
being looked after, this really intrigued me. I noticed that Joe,
although very smart, argued with the adults a lot and wasnt the
most cooperative student. I assume that he has spent much of his
time in this facility that he has possibly lost some significant skills
when it comes to communicating and respect. This would be true if
he has been going to tutoring for a long while of course, so next
session I will attempt to ask him how long has he been going to 826
Michigan. I also worked with another kid, whose name a didnt catch. By
glance he didnt not seem like the brightest of students in regards to his

clothing and way of speech. I was completely wrong. He came to me with


science homework, and exam review for his test on that Friday. We went
through it extremely quickly, not because we were anxious to get it done,
but because he kept answering all the questions correctly. To test his
knowledge, I asked some questions that werent on the study guide but that
were related, and he knew some of the answers! Overall, my first day with
the program was successful and demonstrated to me that there is more to a
kid than what is visible. I believe that all kids have the ability to be smart, its
whether they grow up in a healthy environment that really determines their
potential.

Entry 4: 826 Michigan 11/1/15 3:20-5:30 PM


This was my second trip down to Ann Arbors 826 Michigans branch.
Unfortunately, I wasnt able to see Joe, the student from last week, so I
couldnt ask him about my lingering question as it relates to his socialization.
Coming into 826 Michigan this week, I was excited to see what other thins
the mind of children can teach me and society and how they react differently
to their ongoing socialization within the broader civilization. This week I was
assigned another child named Jayden who was in the 3rd grade. The
coordinators asked him what homework he had, and when he said math they
assigned him to my table. Jayden had a twin brother who was working with
another tutor on the other side of the room. Jayden came to me asking for

some help on his math homework, and the assignment involved composite
numbers and taking a larger number and splitting it amongst its factors.
Before he took out the worksheet, I was confident in myself thinking How
hard can this be?. Surprisingly, this was much more a challenge to me than
anticipated. However, through hard work and problem solving, me and
Jayden were able to work together to learn new things. When we were
finished without homework, Jayden told me he was going to hop on the
computer. I told him that they didnt want the kids to play games on the
computer. He responded by saying he is not going to play games, but finish
his online homework due the next week. This encounter taught me a few key
things. First, I overestimated my knowledge thinking I have previous
experience with these problems so I must be able to solve them with ease.
However somewhere along my education I lost these details while I was
getting into more complicated calculations and studies. Second, I learned
that although they are early in their social development and havent learned
accountability and responsibility as thoroughly as we have, he still somehow
found the motivation to do his homework without me telling him to. When I
was younger, my mom used to ask me when I came home from school if I
had any homework. When it came to Jayden, he started doing his assignment
a week before its due date before I asked him if he had anymore. This was
very eye opening to me. Upon finishing homework, the coordinators allow
the kids to go downstairs and play board games and other activities that
continue to stimulate their minds. Me, Jayden, and another student began to

play Uno, which they completely decimated me in every time. Next to us


were two young boys playing chess. Surprisingly, these two kids are
exceptionally good. Watching them as the contemplate their next move was
very interesting, because when I was younger, chess was a game that older
people play. This reminded me of a topic we discussed in class on
norms. It is not expected to see young kids playing games and
partaking in activities that are more geared towards adults. Norms
are used to make social behavior predictable, according to the text
book. Well, the game chess is perceived to being played by older
adults who have the capability of thinking critically. This may not
seem like a significant norm, nevertheless it stood out to me as a
violation of a norm. All in all, this tutoring session l learned a lot
about social behavior, and encounter a small, but noticeable breach
of norm when the little kids were playing chess. Im starting to see
the sociology behind the service that I am providing.

Entry 5: Sts. Peter and Paul Syriac Orthodox Church 11/6/16 11:00 AM12:30 PM
This week in Sunday School, I was placed at the table with the
third, fourth, and fifth graders again. As I expected, the same bunch of kids
are at my table again with the exception of a few new faces. Even before I
started to volunteer as a Sunday school teacher, I saw many of these kids

every week at church. I dont know whether this is due to their parents
pushing them to go, or that they actually enjoy learning and praying.
Nevertheless, I think that it is critical for parents to convince their child to get
involved with the church at a young age. This actually implements two
main agents behind socialization, the family as well as the religion.
In the previous weeks we discussed how the religion can provide a
child with the sense of morality, truth, and respect. If the family,
which is the initial motivation for the child to do something, shows
the child that going to church every week is a routine and what they
are supposed to do, this can have a profound effect on the child and
how he perceives church. If he/she sees his parents getting involved
with the parish, the child is more likely to be integrated into the
community as well. The same goes for siblings. If the child notices
their big brother or sister going to youth gatherings at the church
hall, then the child has a greater chance of joining the youth
organization. Family is a significant factor in determining the
lifestyle of a child. The topic of discussion for the day was Who is God?
This is a very broad matter, and since it was a longer lesson, the kids did not
have to go upstairs for sermon. I had a group of 7 or 8 kids, and we started
off in the Book of Genesis, as I attempt to explain the creation of all that we
know and see around us. I excepted that there would be many students who
had questions about this topic, which there was. Many questioned where god
came from, and how he created everything. Once we hit the topic of the tree

of knowledge, the kids began to feel very lost. They didnt understand the
meaning behind the tree, the story of Adam and Eve, and how it is all
possible anyway. This reminded me of Jean Piaget and the development of
reasoning reading we had online. There are 4 stages of reasoning
development within children. The sensorimotor stage which is
infancy where the child only knows sucking, touching, looking, and
other forms of direct contact. The preoperational stage where the
child can use symbols and gestures. Then there is the concrete
operational phase which is the stage that my students are
undergoing. They are able to understand concrete thought, such as
numbers and can begin to take the role of others. What they cannot
do, however, is reason with abstract ideas. Kids will not be able to
judge morality in a situation, understand truth and justice, or
reason with any broader thought. In the case of the young kids I am
working with, they do not understand the abstract concept of a
supreme being, and how he exists outside this realm. During this
weeks service at the Sunday School, important sociological topics were
demonstrated. I realized how important the family is as an agent of
socialization. I also began to understand the 4 stages of reasoning according
to Jean Piaget. There is a certain point in development where they are not
capable of understanding abstract thought which makes it hard for them to
understand their faith at a greater level until they come of age where more
intangible reasoning is accessible.

Entry 6: 826 Michigan 11/15/16 3:20-5:30 PM


After a week break from tutoring due to the election, I came into the
tutoring area ready to experience something new. As students rolled in,
Emma, the coordinator, places a student at my table who is struggling with
his language arts homework. Although I am not the best at English, the
young man named Jaylen and I sat down and fought through this worksheet
together. The assignment was to finish the 2 packets that were given to the
students which had definitions to words in them, and use those terms to
complete the sentences in the worksheet. Jaylen finished one packet, and
the other we completed together. Rather quickly, we started jogging through
these sentences with no problem. The strategy we agreed on was that I read
the sentence back to him while he searches through his vocab list, provides a
word he believes could be correct, and then reads it back to himself out loud
to see if it functions within the sentence. A few sentences he struggled on,
however I kept aiming him in the right direction with small Hints. Eventually
we finished the worksheet with plenty of time to spare. It really surprised me
how well behaved this student was. He was very into his homework, and was
dedicated to finishing it so he could move on to the next activity. With no
further assignments, we went over to the book shelves to pick out something
to read together. Jaylen told me that he loves to read comic books, so we
went over to the comic book section and picked the most interesting comic
we could find. It was amusing, because every comic book I pulled out to

show him, the response was always the same, Ive read it already. This
made sense, because I find that individuals who partake in reading are more
often good students in school. Jaylen was a reader which explained his work
ethic when It came to finishing his assignments. The comic book we read was
a story, somewhat a tutorial, on how to write your own comic. We alternated
pages; I read one page and then he reads one. We spent the rest of the
tutoring session reading this book, and right when it was time to go we
finished the last page. What is interesting is I was never into reading. By
myself, I could not have gone through a book, even a comic, in that short
amount of time. However, something about reading with the Jaylen allowed
me to stay focused and attentive. When Jaylen narrates his parts, he is so
enthusiastic. He speaks as he is a part of the text. I believe that this is what
got me into the story, his excitement translated over to me. This actually
sparked my interest as to why I never got into reading as I was
growing up. Are some children just born better readers or is it a
specialized socialization that occurs? Again, I believe that this can
be explained by the agents behind socialization, more specifically
the peer groups this student surrounds himself within. Jaylen is
more than likely spending majority of his time with friends that
partake in the same activities as he does. The groups that I
associated with in primary school werent that big on reading, so to
fit in I conformed to the norm of the group which was to avoid
reading and focus more on the physical activities, such as sports.

Along with peer groups, George Herbert Meads concept of taking


the role of others could have influenced his behavior. Jaylens
parents may be avid readers, as well as his siblings. Seeing his
family reading all these books, he adopts this behavior as he takes
the role of his family. Jaylen played the role, or is currently playing
the role of his significant others, which will then be soon translated
into the concept of General others where he will change himself as
the views of society on him change. Bringing this to broader
viewpoint, behavior can be derived from the people you surround
yourself with.

Entry 7: 826 Michigan 11/29/16 3:20-5:30 PM


Today at 826, I was assigned to work with Joe again. Unfortunately, I
forgot to ask him about how long he has been going to the tutoring
workshops. Next time I see him Ill be sure to ask. Joe didnt have any
homework that was due the following day, so the coordinators told him to
write a story about anything he wanted to. 826 Michigan place great
emphasis on the creative process and writing to express ones self. In fact,
along with tutoring, 826 also provides writing workshops where kids come in
and the entire group creates a story as the tutors and volunteers move the
plot along with their role playing. I believe that allowing the children to
express their inner self is an outstanding way to expose their true potential.

As with Joe, the first task was to choose what prompt he wanted to write
about. With Christmas coming up, Joe sought to write about Santa and what
happened when he found him downstairs eating the cookies. The entire class
time we spent writing this story, coming up with new and fun ideas to make
the story more interesting. Joe had the most creative and silly mind I have
ever seen. He writes about one topic and then completely jumps to another
making the story extremely enjoyable. He talked about how the main
character and his brother found Santa eating their cookies, and how he stole
their toilet and refrigerator filled with burgers. Ive noticed that when it
comes to partaking in an activity that involves his imagination, joe is able to
focus more on the task at hand. Nevertheless, he still has his occasionally
disruptions. We showed the story to the coordinators and they loved it! They
liked it so much that they asked him if they could use his prompt for future
activities. Along with writing his story, he illustrated it as well. I really
enjoyed working with joe on this assignment. His energy and youth excited
me which allowed me to bring out the creativity in my being. I must admit,
when Joe gets off topic and starts goofing off, I find it amusing. The
kid is funny and I want to join him in silly play, however my role as a
tutor prevents me. This is a perfect example of the role conflict that
I experienced. As a young man, I still enjoy playing games and being
silly. As a tutor, I have to make sure the students stay focused, learn
a thing or to, and finish their work. The conflict between my roles as
an average goofy teen and a tutor were apparent, however the role

of a tutor was more significant in the moment. I realize that the


entire tutoring workshop is a front stage. The Dramaturgy of 826
Michigan consists of roles being played by both student and tutors.
All tutors perform their duties as tutors, differing in their style or
role performance. This is the same with the students. They can
either be a good student or a bad student. Overall, today has taught
me more about the concept of role performance and dramaturgy,
especially when it came to the internal conflict of differing roles.

Entry 8: 826 Michigan 12/6/16 3:20-5:30 PM


This week is unfortunately my last week at 826 Michigan Ann Arbor.
The Detroit branch is opening a tutoring program downtown which is much
closer, so I will be continuing my service next semester in the city. As usual,
Im the first one of the tutors to arrive because I go to tutoring straight from
school, so I adjust time for traffic and such. The coordinators place a new
tutor with me to work with a student together. As the tutors were walking
around the room assigning kid, Joe noticed me and asked if he could work at
my table. This was a perfect time to ask Joe about how long he has
been attending 826. He told me that he has been going here since
he was in first grade, being a fifth grader now. That means that
every week day after school Joe comes to the workshop for a few
hours and works with various tutors on his daily assignments. As I

was saying in the first journal entry, the fact that joe is in the care
of other individuals for much of his time, he has slight behavioral
issues. We discussed in class how separation from the mother, as in
day care, creates developmental problems where the child does not
know how to cooperate with others. According to the text book,
they are more likely to disrupt teachers regardless of social class,
gender, or even how prestigious the program is. This may explain
the slight issues with the way Joe acts, however he still has a lot of
potential. Joe, the other tutor Austin and I started to work on his prompt for
school. They were assigned to write a letter to an individual about a fictional
trip they took to Egypt. The students were to pick 3 locations within the
country and write about how their trip took them on a journey to these 3
sites. This assignment took the entire 2 hours to complete. Every other
sentence that Joe completed, he would get off task and started goofing off.
Joe also had trouble forming his sentences, however this is an issue majority
of kids his age face. Austin and I explained to him that If he finished his
assignment here at the workshop, then he wont have any work to do at
home. Once we gave him an incentive to work, he started focusing on his
writing. Within another half an hour, he wrote his entire letter, which was
actually very good. This surprised me, because I know how Joe isnt the type
of kid to follow instructions very well. Obviously that giving incentive to work
is the best way to convince someone to do as asked. This week in class we
focused on social class and stratification which is involved in this

situation. As the textbook defined, intergenerational social mobility


is where the kids of a family can move up or down the social class
ladder. The parents of these students want their child to succeed so
that they can experience upward social mobility and live a better
life. The kids at 826 Michigan are likely to be part of families who
are in the middle class and attempt to educate their kids as much as
possible so they can live a life better than their own. My service at
826 Michigan has been one of many memories. I have made friends,
developed relationships with bright students, learned new things about
myself, and now understand social behavior at a more intimate level. I can
see now that sociology is embedding in all actions of daily life. Moving past
common sense and noticing the small details of a relationship, encounter, or
social structure is what embodies a sociologist.