About Joanna G

Joanna G is the Director of Communications and External Relations at Antioch University Los Angeles. Prior to AULA she was in footwear marketing at various international footwear manufacturers. She has her B.A. and M.A. in Organizational Management from Antioch University, and is currently in the Educational Leadership doctoral program at UCLA. In the very few hours a day she isn't working or studying, she enjoys walking her dog Bula, spinning, running (very, very slowly) and travel.

“Why would I work for free?”

By Sherry Wong

As an ABC (American-Born Chinese), my parents hardly talked about community service  or its personal value. Growing up poor, my parents were more concerned about putting food on the table and making rent than helping others. The times that I did hear about community service, I got the impression it was for punishing celebrities – e.g. Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Naomi Campbell and Snoop Dogg. “I don’t want to do community service. Can’t I just donate money?” That is what I used to say until my Service Learning course – MGT 524 – enlightened me.

I currently tutor a young lady from Thailand through LAPL’s Adult Literacy Program. Since English is her second language and she wants to attend an American university, she is required to take the TOEFL iBT test – it measures a person’s ability to use and understand English at the university level and it evaluates how well you combine your listening, reading, speaking and writing skills to perform academic tasks. I have been working with my Thai student for about seven weeks now and her English-speaking progress is evident.

I learned that community service is not just court-mandated for naughty celebrities. I
learned community service is not simply about donating money. I learned through my
Service Learning experience that community service is about giving back (time) and
paying it forward. I attended Los Angeles public schools and I remember every teacher
who helped me succeed along the way. Their kindness compelled me to give that same
time and focus back to my Thai student. When my Thai student and I started working
together seven weeks ago, she was very quiet and timid. Now she is incredibly talkative
and humorous while doing it all in English. I know I am making a difference and there is
no better feeling.

Elvis, the Magna Carta and Random Dinosaurs.

I first saw this video at a marketing conference.

There are a lot of agency-created videos out there that give good overviews of the impact of social media, but I tend to think this one is the most vibrant. My favorite statistic in it is how if Wikipedia were made into a book, it would be 2.25 MILLION pages long.  Two and a quarter MILLION pages.  That’s insane.  Who would read that? Can you imagine trying to purchase that book at Barnes and Noble? More importantly, who would want to purchase that book?

When I was little I used to tag along grocery shopping with my mom after school on Thursdays.  One day I noticed a big display of book along the main aisle.  These weren’t just any books, these were thick and shiny, hard-back Encyclopedias with fancy scripted writing and gold-tinted pages.  From the first moment I saw them, I was in love.  I remember begging my mom to buy them.  I might have even cried (in my defense, I was probably about 8!)  I think they were on C or D by that time, so it took some wearing down of my poor mother before she caved in and bought the first part of the set.  The trick was that they were released slowly, every two weeks, by the store.  For months I would happily accompany her on a boring round of errands because I knew at the end we’d end up at Albertsons and I’d get to buy the newest release.

Oh how I loved those books.  I would spend hours pouring over the pages and browsing all the random entries like the Dromaeosaurus, knickers,  Montana, seaweed, or the War of 1812.  Sometimes my sister and I would try to look up the naughtiest thing we could think of, like “boobies” or “sex”.  We were eight and six, after all.  But mostly I would pick up a random letter, stop at a random page, and just skim.  Eventually – like all toys – I grew tired of them and moved on to more glamorous playthings like My Little Pony and Cabbage Patch Kids.  But for years they remained a staple in our house, sitting quiet yet proudly in our living room shelves collecting dust.  In a way it was comforting to me, knowing that they were still there, with all of their secrets and mysteries waiting patiently inside.  After all, who knew when I might need to know the diameter of a softball (3.5-3.8″), how many number one singles Elvis had (14), or when the Magna Carta was issueed (1215).

But back to Wikipedia.  I guess you can say I have a soft spot for it – just like those hard-back Encyclopedias of my youth.  While it’s not rimmed in fake gold ink, it still (to me) feels like a magical place where you can find the answer to just about anything.  And while I would never buy the hard-bound copy (because let’s be realistic, how would I ever get that in my car?) I will admit to browsing it from time to time, with no specific goal in mind.

Speaking of, did you know that Rhode Island, the smallest state, has a larger population than Alaska, the largest state?  Well, now you do.  Thanks, Wikipedia.