My service action proposal did not turn out to be what I expected it would be, but I am still happy with the result and feel that I am contributing meaningfully to fulfilling the goals of my chosen organization, Legal Aid of North Carolina. When I started, I saw the organization specifically as one that helps in civil cases and has a prime focus on elevating economically disadvantaged individuals. However, after conducting my interview and learning about all of the other services that LANC provides, I was happy to settle on my proposal of setting up a “Know Your Rights” workshop for an attorney to come and inform students about their rights for litigation of sexual assault and domestic violence cases. Though it’s not what I imagined exactly, i’m still glad that if enacted, my Service Action Proposal would not only make dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people aware of rights they may not otherwise know they have, but also make them aware of LANC’s work, and the other services that they provide. This alone could help so many people use the benefits offered by the government to their fullest potential, which is in itself worth it. My original issue that I chose was not a single issue, but instead a interconnected network of issues designed to keep certain groups of people from accessing the economic potential that this world has to offer. Talking to Mr. Driscoll helped confirm my belief that LANC had the intention to fight that system by confronting it from within. However, like I said, his advice helped me to realize that LANC’s work is so much more than just fighting against economic structures. For this project, I definitely had to set my Talent Theme of connectedness onto the backburner a little bit. Obviously I still have faith in the work I am doing, but making sure that folks are educated on their rights when it comes to litigation of sexual assault doesn’t particularly mesh well with the argument I made about oppressive economic institutions. It is, however, a problem that I really care about solving, thus where my restorativeness comes in to help me better seek out a way to tackle this issue. My talents of intellection, relator, and context also help me to take a step back and realize the statistical magnitude of this issue, but also help me to continue to understand the deep, personal pain that sexual assault can inflict on a person.
Though as I have said I originally wrote about economic institutions as a source of oppression, I came to realize after some thought that finance is not the only aspect of our society in which an engrained, institutionalized status quo can oppress targeted individuals. Another one, of course, is the culture of rape and sexual assault that is so prevalent in the United States today. We refuse to combat cat calling, tell boys to keep chasing that one girl, the justice system allows evident rapists to get off scot-free, I could go on. The point is, this idea of connectedness applies to all parts of our culture, which is why I am inclined to fight to inform people about their rights – if we want to cast this rape culture out, we have to address its institutional staying power. One thing that contributes to the success of a project like the one i’m proposing is the increasing awareness that the public has about rape culture. As more absurd stories like the one of Brock Turner continue to have light shed upon them, people only get more frustrated – and that is a good thing for the publicity of one’s rights in sexual assault cases. However, success can be hindered because there are definitely some people who are trapped and are unable to get help. This specifically addresses the domestic violence part of LANC’s proposed workshop – if women are held effectively captive by their partners, we can’t expect them to be able to come out and get help themselves. Someone, somehow, has to make sure that gets done for that abused person. As far as takeaways, I think the best thing I can do with the information I have learned from completing my Service Action Proposal is to make sure all of my friends and loved ones are aware of services provided by LANC and its equivalent entities in other states. As a Village member, I can do the same thing – I can make sure my peers are aware of LANC, but more pertinent to my project, I can make sure they are all aware of their rights during sexual assault and domestic violence litigation – especially on a college campus, it is important for those around me to have knowledge of this information.