I've been conducting interviews with service learning students who spent the term working with a residential foster care facility in Detroit. One event that the students have been referencing over and over again in the interviews: a group of foster kids pretending to look for time capsules and buried treasure in the gardens behind the facility. On a Saturday morning, a group of the students and I were working with several of the foster kids prepping the gardens for the winter (the facility is a Greening of Detroit site and home to one of GofD's urban gardening programs). Just a moment in which kids used their imaginations, but also a moment of hope, a moment of play, a moment that my students are now reflecting on as life-affirming. Not a moment that erases the material realities of residents, but something that's still meaningful, especially for students for whom emotional discourse is a big part of how they talk about civic engagement.
(x-listed in rhetoric of civic engagement)