Learning roles of citizenship is incredibly important in schools, I have always believed this. I always thought my school did an amazing job having us participate in fundraisers and go out in the community, but after lecture on Monday and discussing different levels of citizenship I feel some tension with my thoughts and experiences. My school did several different fundraising activities for various organizations. Some that stick out were for the Food Credit Canada food drives. In exchange for a non-perishable food item students could wear their hats, we counted items for “house” points, created models out of the food and so on. At the end of the food drive FCC members would come in and they would talk with us about their company and the importance of our donations. But we never were given further resources or information about how to get more involved, to become justice-oriented citizens and actually help the local people with hunger and how we could support these people more long term. And often we would collect donations and talk little about what for or how to become more involved making me think we were more of personally- responsible citizens than participatory in most cases.
One fundraiser that will always be close to my heart was one I started in my local school and then that reached out to my entire community. We were raising money for a local community member who was in need of an expensive wheelchair due to an unexpected and tragic disease that caused his limbs to no longer function. I did an interview with him and asked specific questions about this rare disease he was diagnosed with, I learned as much as I could about his life and all he knew about his disease. From there I got some peers together and some teacher support and we began organizing and running multiple fundraising activities, including a massive community bottle drive that raised over a thousand dollars. It was an amazing experience and I was extremely grateful for all the support. Enough money was raised to buy his wheelchair and even some other supports he needed. I thought I was a full on active citizen, but after learning about what it means to be a justice-oriented citizen, I understand there were steps that I could have taken to further my participation to become a more worldly- citizen.
I believe that in most cases it has been made impossible to become a justice-oriented citizen for many reasons. One, I did not even know there were three “levels” of citizenship until reading Westheimer’s article. Also I never felt a support to become further involved in organizations from teachers or most presenters. Organizations were “in the moment” topics as well; we only discussed them in the season they were globally recognized and then it seemed they were forgotten until the next year. I hope to provide more resources for future students and to make the importance of organizations known over the entire year, not just when globally recognized.