Social Capital Paper Example
For my Social Capital Paper, I chose to write about the Sunday School and the Food Bank I recently volunteered at in my local Masjid. I chose to write about my experience helping out at my local Sunday School because I had the opportunity to attend a fully religious private school and I gained a lot of knowledge in the topic that is taught at the school. Meanwhile, others did not have the same opportunity because they couldn’t afford it and I wanted to help out the others who could not afford the private school and spread my knowledge to them. My work in that school has increased the social capital by involving myself with the education of the children in my community. I also chose to write about my experience working in the food bank because it was a great experience helping those in need and it also taught me many values in life. In Robert Putnam’s article “Bowling Alone”, he mentions “the quality of public life and the performance of social institutions are indeed powerfully influenced by norms and networks of civic engagement” (Putnam, 66). With the sheer joy, I received from helping the kids and helping out in the food pantry I feel my life and my community have improved from my teaching in the Sunday School and my helping out in the food pantry.
It all started around 9th grade whenever I was told I needed to get volunteer hours for school. I was going around looking for opportunities and that was when I found the Sunday School program my masjid offered. At first, it was a little bit awkward because I was teaching classes with some youth who were either the same age as me or a little bit younger. I have always wanted to help out my community and I had finally found a way that was accessible to a person as young as I was at the time. It was very simple for me because I was very knowledgeable about the topics I was teaching, and I enjoyed teaching it to the other students. I am also grateful for this volunteer opportunity because of the many things I learned on the way. When I first started, I wasn’t that much of a good teacher, I was unable to control my class because they saw me as one of them instead of a teacher, but with time I showed them that their behavior was unacceptable and that when I was teaching them I am their teacher. I find it more difficult to teach kids online because I feel it is easier to teach students in person. I also taught Arabic and Islamic studies mainly helping out the students who did not know their Arabic alphabet.
I had the opportunity to work for the Sunday School from 9th grade in 2018 up until 2020 before the quarantine lockdown and now we have started to do it online again in October. The children I have taught there are so sweet and kind. The other teachers were also very kind towards me, and they have helped me out with my classes which I thought was very kind. I had formed a close relationship with everyone in that school because it was such a small community. It was very saddening when we had to go on a very long break because of the coronavirus lockdown. I, at first, found it difficult to teach the kids who were beginners because some kids would not treat the school as a real school and they would just sit there not paying attention, care-free which was sad to see because it seemed they weren’t interested in learning the language and the history of their religion, but I just had to find ways to make the topic seem more interesting and fun so the children would pay attention. I would use apps such as Quizlet Live or Kahoot and I would reward the winner so I could get them all to pay attention and study in their free time to win.
Over time more students from my school would volunteer with me at the school to the point where I only could teach one specific subject which was beginner’s Quran recitation and while I was still happy to help out and volunteer, I was saddened by this because I enjoyed teaching the other topics especially Islamic Studies, that was my favorite topic to teach. It was the topic that I enjoyed reading about and tell others about when I’d learn something new. I was also sad to give up teaching beginner’s Arabic. After all, I felt it was a topic I was able to teach well because I come from a family of Moroccans and they raised me to speak and understand Arabic, unlike other parents who just speak English around their kids and don’t teach them Arabic.
In 10th grade, I was looking for more opportunities to volunteer at my masjid and I found an opportunity right before Sunday School which was the Food Bank. I was grateful that they accepted me because volunteering at the Food Bank taught me many life lessons. “Religious affiliation is by far the most common associational [End Page 68] membership among Americans. Indeed, by many measures, America continues to be (even more than in Tocqueville's time) an astonishingly "churched" society. For example, the United States has more houses of worship per capita than any other nation on Earth.” (Putnam 68-69 ). I was in my religious membership when I was offered to help the needy. My experience over there was the best I ever had. The other adults were very kind to me and helped me out and many of the people who came to the food drives would tell me many interesting stories about their lives and it fascinated me. It really saddened me whenever they temporarily closed their doors because of the covid pandemic, but I’m very happy now that they reopened it and I finally get to help more people especially through these troubling times.
I would always be in charge of either the dessert station or the bread station and after they closed, and we start to put stuff up Mrs. Minniemah would always allow me to take one dessert home to my family and a flower for my mother which I thought was very sweet. Mrs. Minniemah is one of the adults that I became close with after working at the food pantry. Mrs. Minniemah was a teacher at my school and I always remembered her as being the nicest person, especially the first time I met her when I forgot a pencil in class, and I asked her if she had a spare pencil. She said she didn’t have one and apologized to me the next day when I saw her, she gave me a jumbo pack of pencils and I was so shocked and happy. I also got to meet Mr. Wright, he was my teacher’s husband and has had previously met me in one of her classes. He always gives me great advice in my life and tells me multiple ways to help me get stronger. He has always helped me whenever I needed it, and he was always kind.
Across the 35 countries in this survey, social trust and civic engagement are strongly correlated: the greater the density of associational membership in a society, the more trusting its citizens. Trust and engagement are two facets of the same underlying factor--social capital (Putnam 73). However, over the past several decades, the vibrancy of American civil society has significantly declined. Now, only forty percent of all Americans claim to be "currently involved in a small group that meets regularly and provides support or caring for those who participate in it" (Putnam, 71). A second aspect of informal social capital on which we happen to have reasonably reliable time-series data involves neighborliness. In each General Social Survey since 1974 respondents have been asked, "How often do you spend a social evening with a neighbor?" The proportion of Americans who socialize with their neighbors more than once a year has slowly but steadily declined over the last two decades, from 72 percent in 1974 to 61 percent in 1993. (On the other hand, socializing with "friends who do not live in your neighborhood" appears to be on the increase, a trend that may reflect the growth of workplace-based social connections.) (Putnam 73). I plan to keep volunteering at these organizations to build my social capital. I also plan to keep in touch with everyone I met during the volunteering experiences and I can’t wait to go again next week. These experiences have impacted me as a person because I learned many new things along the way, and I got to help out my community which made me feel better about myself especially in this pandemic when there are so many people suffering and going through different crises’. I also feel that I impacted my community by spreading education to those who need it and can’t afford it. In a religious community, they should learn this kind of stuff and me being able to help them really made me happy. In the future, I will sign up for more volunteer opportunities and when I have a family, we will participate in group volunteering and I will make them start young so they can grow up and help out their community wherever they end up. Volunteering is one of the greatest ways to increase social capital in my opinion.