Possible Reinvention of Social Service Hours


TCS Senior Matías Vélez volunteering on Cartas Al Niño Dios 2018, a main event for students to get social service hours. Asociación Soñar Despierto.

Juan Manuel Rodriguez

Recent investments in social justice awareness have caused those in charge of social service hours at The Columbus School to challenge their processes. 

The addition of the new senior course, Innovation for Social Change, along with the new Social Justice Coach, Alysa Perreras, were brought into the school on the 2019 – 2020 school year with the intention of teaching the community how to make a positive impact on society.  NHS and Andrés Rendón, the school’s counselor and the teacher in charge of senior service hours, understand the initiative and are taking it into consideration in their respective social service projects. 

“We will not be discouraging hours from people who do charity but I think we, or I, want to move  NHS away from doing things just for charity and hours,” Maria Pia Molina, TCS Senior and NHS Secretary, said.

Despite being previously introduced to the concept of social change, Molina believes that incorporating social justice in current school programs could have an impact on NHS’s service opportunities. She cites that the main reason for her belief is due to the difference between social change and charity. 

“Social change looks at systems, and it’s not just helping people momentarily but for the long term. I think that’s one of the biggest differences; you should be doing something that’s sustainable and for a longer time than just donating some food or clothes,” Molina said.

Acting from a point of consideration, Rendón is also questioning the student’s mindset regarding social service. It is a known requirement for graduation to have 80 hours of social work, but, as suggested by Rendón, it is relatively easy to trick the system.

“I do believe that there are young people who have bought and may still bring inflated certificates that don’t necessarily correspond to reality. I try to verify this [credibility of the certificate], but most importantly [to] reach students’ mindsets to show them how social service is a path to happiness,” Rendón said. 

Even though Rendón and Molina have mentioned how verifying for actual impact is beyond their control , they are willing to start slowly on this process by raising awareness and trusting the students’ judgment. Some changes are starting to become evident. One of them is the possible closure of Heroe Camina. 

“I am in favour of shutting the program down to some extent because it’s really not sustainable,” Molina said.  

With high hopes for the school, Rendón and Molina acknowledge that this newly-founded initiative seems to be spreading at a slow but steady pace. 

“I think we have a long way to go; we need to work as an organization, as an institution and I think that this is a path of the heart; the best thing we could do,” Rendon said.