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Dec. 24 2009 - 10:43 am | 45 views | 1 recommendation | 2 comments

Sandra Bullock’s new movie and a call to volunteerism

My first column for the website GOOD–which defines itself as “a collaboration of individuals, businesses, and nonprofits pushing the world forward” through a magazine, events, and website “for people who give a damn”–is now online. The topic, as you might have guessed, is Sandra Bullock’s new movie and how it relates to the culture of volunteerism (with an emphasis on mentoring) in the United States. You can read it here. I also have included a link in the “What I’m Up To” box on the right side of this page; you’ll find updates on future columns there (I plan to write for GOOD about once per month).


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  1. collapse expand

    I think fear is a huge issue for people in why they do not volunteer; especially in the inner city where much help is needed. If you’re not from the city, it is difficult to understand the culture, and sometimes the dialect of the inner city.

    • collapse expand

      Linda – I guess the only thing I can say is to dive in and give it a try, understanding that much about daily life in urban areas is not reported on the nightly news. People outside the city often see stories about shootings or violence on the news and think that’s what defines an urban area. In fact, many urban areas, though facing myriad challenges, are filled with kind people and strong communities. People outside of Chicago typically are shocked when I tell them that my neighborhood on the south side of the city is the most friendly place I’ve lived, with people saying hello to each other on the street, striking up friendly conversations in public, doing random acts of kindness for one another, etc. But the only way to experience that is to become a part of it to some degree, as opposed to just experiencing it through the paper or the local news.

      Back to your specific issue…Perhaps volunteering with younger kids (K-4) in an elementary school would be good for people who are somewhat fearful (a professor once told me that no matter where you are in the world, the thing that intimidates adults more than anything else is a group of teenagers). It’s also worth noting that you would be at the school during the day; most violent activity in cities happens during evening and nighttime hours.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    About Me

    I'm a Teach For America alum and spent three years as a high school teacher on the west and south sides of Chicago. I've conducted research on turnaround schools with a team from the University of Virginia, consulted for school districts across the country, and done work with New Leaders for New Schools, the Consortium on Chicago School Research, and DonorsChoose.org. Currently I'm finishing my PhD from UVa's Curry School of Education.

    My work has been published in Education Week, the Phi Delta Kappan, and a number of academic journals, and I'm a co-author of the book Teachers' Guide to School Turnarounds. I also contribute monthly to GOOD, the website "for people who give a damn": www.good.is/community/MichaelSalmonowicz

    Learn more about my writing: http://sites.google.com/site/salmonowiczpubs

    E-mail: michael.salmonowicz@gmail.com

    See my profile »
    Followers: 51
    Contributor Since: September 2009
    Location:Chicago, IL

    What I'm Up To

    My June column for…



    I am a contributor for GOOD, the website “for people who give a damn.” You can read my June column here. Past columns can be found here.