Here at the BLC, we are extremely lucky to be one of the sites for Boston College’s PULSE program for service learning. We have had the great opportunity of having 5 amazing undergrad students volunteering with us since September 2014, and as their time with us is soon coming to an end, we wanted to hear a little bit about what their BLC experiences have been like. Today we’d like to introduce Ariana Paradise!
1) What drew you to the BLC during your PULSE placement process?
I was initially drawn to the BLC because I wanted to volunteer at an agency that would allow me to serve people older than myself. In the past, I had typically done a lot of service involving children and I wanted to experience something new. The BLC was able to give me the experience I was looking for. Another reason I was drawn to the BLC was because the staff was very welcoming and enthusiastic to have me there. This made me feel like I was wanted, which a lot of the other PULSE agencies failed to do. Additionally, the BLC had a very open environment that would allow me to serve others in the most effective ways possible, as well as allow myself to grow and experience new things.
2) What is/are your favorite part(s) about volunteering at the BLC?
My favorite part about serving at the BLC is getting to enjoy lunches and dinners with the BLC members and staff. I love being a part of this because it gives me the opportunity to get to know a lot of the members more personally because I get to sit down and have a meal with them.
3) What has been one moment that has stood out to you in your time at the BLC and why?
A moment that has stood out to me was when I was in charge of dinner door duty last semester. Every week when I would do this job, it would make me feel happy when the members gradually started to recognize me and remember my name. These brief interactions eventually developed into stronger relationships with the members where they would feel comfortable enough to share with me things about their jobs or home-life away from the BLC. It made me happy that the members wanted to share these kinds of things with me, and that they would be excited to see me every week at the door! My interactions and relationships with the members make me feel like I am important to the BLC when I come to serve every week.
4) Has your experience at the BLC impacted the way you understand HIV/AIDS and/or the people living with it?
Before coming to the BLC I had no knowledge of HIV/AIDS. My experience at the BLC has taught me everything I know about HIV/AIDS relating to how it is transmitted, treated, and how one lives with HIV/AIDS. My favorite experiences are when members decide to open up to me by sharing how they became HIV-positive, and by talking about the stigma they experience in their lives because of their HIV status.
5) If you could describe your BLC experience in one word, what would it be and why?
Influential–I would use this word to describe my BLC experience because it has influenced me to change how I view others different from myself, as well as how I view the world around me. I learned not to be so quick to judge others because you never know what they are experiencing/facing in their lives that makes them the way they are. With this said, it’s important to not be judgmental, but instead be understanding and open to the idea that people’s experiences shape who they are and can teach us many things about why people act certain ways and how they effect the world we are living in. The differences between the BLC members and myself are what changed how I act towards others in the world because of my new open mindset towards others.