Seniors Giving Back to the Community

Seniors spent all day Monday and Tuesday morning engaged in the annual Senior Service Learning Symposium. As part of Bosque School's commitment to learning about issues that affect us as global citizens and service to support and improve those issues locally, every year the graduating class spends this time immersed in an experience highlighting food justice, environmental justice, and community stories.

On Monday morning, students arrived at the Mountain View Community Center where they heard local voices representing vulnerable communities in the South Valley.  Juan Lopez addressed the students about his childhood in Mountain View, air and water quality that affects the residents, and his work as a health equity and community activist.  Mario Armendariz, Director of the Mountain View Community Center, shared his own stories about facing and overcoming adversity, as well as the programs that support Mountain View families.  Dr. Magda Avila, UNM professor of Community Health, shared a video created by UNM graduate students highlighting Mountain View community members who have worked to improve the living conditions of their neighborhood for many decades.  

On Tuesday morning, Bosque seniors interacted with students and faculty from UNM’s Community Engagement Center. The workshop explored ideas and authentic approaches around service, power dynamics, systemic oppression, and community assets, as well as individual assets.

On both Monday and Tuesday afternoon, students were dispatched to farm sites in self-selected groups. These farms are members of the Agri-Cultura Network (ACN), a farmer-owned brokerage that sells sustainably-grown, local produce to APS, restaurants, and other institutions.  Based in the South Valley, the ACN also provides Community Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) boxes to residents of the South Valley at a subsidized cost; thereby providing local, fresh, and organic produce at an affordable price. Ultimately, ACN supports the South Valley's economic development by providing technical training and land opportunities for new and existing farmers.

Students worked side-by-side with farmers, learning about food justice and farming traditions, and enjoying time together under the shade of old-growth cottonwood trees and hoop houses, while digging posts, weeding, harvesting, transplanting, interacting with farm animals, driving tractors, composting, and reminiscing about their shared years in middle and high school. Here are comments from the students’ reflection/feedback forms. Enjoy!

What did you observe or do during the last two days that offered a new perspective? What impact did this have on you?
“It was really impactful to hear from Magdalena and Jose about the injustices because they are real and present in a community very near to us. At Bosque we learn a lot about the issues that communities in this world face, but sometimes those issues feel so far away. Mountain View is a community I have been to before, but even after we discussed it in an English class, I didn’t quite make the connection. Doing the farm work and going to the community center allowed me to finally make that connection.” ~Elyse ’19

“I observed how difficult it was to farm. This really increased my respect for farmers because their jobs are very difficult.” ~Fran ’19

What was your most memorable moment from this Senior Service Learning Symposium experience?
My most memorable moment was meeting Reina, the farmer I was working with. She made me realize the impact a small farm, on one-third of an acre, can have on a community. It’s often the small things that can create the biggest change. ~Bella ’19

What improvements would you suggest for this “finale” Service Learning unit for future senior classes?
“More time at the farm. Two days went by incredibly fast. It was hard work, but good work.” ~Komal ’19

Looking back at your years as a Bosque School student, which Service Learning experience impacted you the most and why?
Weekly visits to Mesa Verde Community Center as part of Amnesty International was impactful for me. We began the year prepared to teach refugee students, but instead we began to play, dance, and share our music. One day we brought over a set of jacks to teach the students, and I watched as they eagerly grabbed them and immediately started a game. They didn’t need us to teach them. When I stopped thinking of the visits as my time to help, but rather to learn and share, we cultivated friendships and trust.” ~Vera ’19

What are ways you might continue community engagement and service beyond Bosque School?
“I already have plans to lead a service group on my college campus.” ~Katie ’19

“I’m definitely going to engage in community outreach in Chicago. It’s important for me to feel a sense of place, and in order to do so, I need to go out into the community and be active.” ~Natalie ’19