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Ahmad Jaradat

Dr. Brewster
Honors Sociology
15, April 2018
Service Learning Journal


The concepts present in sociology can be implemented and integrated in daily

interactions of our lives. I was able to analyze my experiences and observations while

doing my service learning and connect them to sociological concepts and theories. This

integration led me to cultivate a higher level of understanding and solidify the concepts

in a distinct and interesting way. The sites where I completed my hours where

Karmanos Cancer Institute and Gleaners Community Food Bank. Together, these sites

allowed me to be involved in unique and diverse interactions. While completing the

course, I would go back and add and enhance my entries as we learned different

concepts. In this journal, I am going to describe, reflect, and integrate these experiences

and observations.

Karmanos 01/23/18 (4 hours):

On a Tuesday at eight in the morning, I came in the volunteering office having a

general idea of what to do from previous friends, but I did not know what to expect.

Starting of the day at Karmanos Cancer Institute, one of the older volunteers gave a

tour of the hospital. I felt overwhelmed as he walked around explaining the different

parts of the hospital, hopelessly saying yes or I got it every time he showed me a place.

There were nine different “sub-hospitals”, hallways, rooms that we must go to and from
to complete what we were assigned. Slowly, after shadowing the volunteer for my first

shift, I got a broad understanding of how the hospital was organized and the different

tasks we must complete throughout the day. Observing how the volunteers treated the

patients made me feel that I too can genuinely make a difference in someone’s life.

However, I noticed there were way more patients than I anticipated and I started to think

how these sections of the hospital each take care of the patients. Looking at it with a

sociological lens, we can look at the different sections of the hospital in a functional

perspective. We can see that the hospital is a “society’ itself and within that society

there are different hospitals that function independently. For example, there is a DMC

Heart hospital, Harper Hospital, and Karmanos Cancer institute. As these sections are

working normally, the hospital (society) is at its normal state. Also, there are interactions

flowing between the different structures. I shadowed a volunteer moving a patient from

the infusion center located in Karmanos to the DMC heart hospital to get treated. The

structures of these emerged due to the high need which is evident by the high volume of

people. If patients with cancer was not a problem in society there will be no need for a

place like Karmanos.

The same can be said for the hospital as a whole. Functional analyst can say

that good health and effective medical care is needed in society so it run smoothly and

function. Being sick, prevents an individual from working and contribute to society.

Therefore, doctors are needed to validate a person’s sickness and determine the best

treatment and places like hospitals emerged to meet those needs. The hospital is an

institution that emerged from the needs of people. This can be looked at by functionalist

as having a manifest function, latent functions and dysfunctions. The manifest

function of the hospital an institution providing medical and surgical treatment and care

for sick or injured people. The latent functions are that people have a place to go to if

they are sick or in need of emergency. Also, the less people that are sick the healthier

and more productive society will become. Without a hospital, doctors, nurses, and other

staff will be without a job. The glaring dysfunctions of the hospital as an institution is it

behaves like a business. Listening to the staff at the volunteer department, I overheard

them saying the hospital is going through budget cuts and that people are being laid off

or that they have to cut down on resources. Another point that I found interesting after

volunteering there more frequently is that each level of the hospital has its own section

of snacks and refreshments. I cannot swap their inventory or pass it to another patient

in another floor or to their families. I found this intriguing because a hospital is supposed

to care for their patients, however it depends on each floors’ budget. Another

dysfunction, is that people without a sufficient income go into the high debt and fees

after getting treatment. Looking deeper into this dysfunction, we can see that a debt a

patient is more likely to fall in a process that will reproduce inequality. When a patient

has to make a choice on whether they must pay their bills or put food on the table

becomes harder as their debt increases. They might decide to go with inadequate

treatment in order to survive. The opposite can be said with patients with higher

income. They can afford the treatment and are able to live healthier lives without

worrying about putting food on the table. Consequently, they can live longer lives

compared to people who cannot afford care.

After going through the semester, we learned the concept of socialization and

how it’s a lifelong process. Looking back at my first shift at Karmanos I can see that I
have went through a lot of developmental socialization to be able to fulfil my role as a

“navigator”. Before taking this course, I would have looked at this as just normal

training. However, now I can see it as an element of socialization in which I become

more competent fulfilling the role associated being a volunteer. The shadowing,

modules, and trying it on my own each helped me build confidence in the roles I must

accomplish. Some of the concepts of resocialization from the reading “Anybody’s

Son Will Do” can also apply to volunteering at Karmanos. For example, all the

volunteers must wear the Karmanos volunteer shirt and dress pants. We all go through

the same training and do the same jobs. Collectively, this can be looked at as a way

break us down so we can work together. If we all look the same and do the same thing

there will not be any tension between volunteers and we work as a team. To further

motivate people to stay and promote more help, the supervisors provide a positive

sanction. After a shift, volunteers, are offered a small gift card that they can use after

their shift. This sanction will be a validation that we are following the norms of the

society in which we give back to the community.

Another point relating to resocialization that I would like to add to this entry is

when new patients have come to start getting treatment or diagnosed for cancer. This

resocialization of patients is more intensive than me getting used the hospital.

Patients now have to go through a new lifestyle. in They are required to live with

constant trips to the hospitals, changing their diet, appearance and the side effects of

their treatments. To get them used to the new environment they are going to be seeing

frequently, volunteers give a mini tour of the hospital and a portfolio binder. In that

binder is all the resources they need to make their visits to hospital more organized and
efficient. An anecdote from one of the patients told me that just two months ago he was

fine playing soccer with his friends. On one night while he was playing, he collapsed

and was eventually diagnosed with cancer and that’s why he is at the hospital. Now he

goes to the hospital three times a week to get his cancer treatment. These patients do

not have necessary have a normal life and have to live every day not knowing if they will

make it to the next day. They will have to adapt to their new way of life and learn to deal

with the symptoms they are experiencing.

Gleaners 01/27/2018 (2.5 hours):

Volunteering at Gleaners Community food bank allowed me to experience

different interactions that I would not have seen at the hospital. The first ten minutes of

the shift, the volunteer coordinator gave a brief orientation on the different jobs that we

are going to do for the day. I was chosen to help filling orders to different locations. As I

was filling orders with my team, I noticed that the goods we were grabbing were basic

produce that I, myself, take for granted. Milk, beans, rice, canned fruit, etc., are goods

that these people need and cannot afford. I did not expect that people will have trouble

acquiring these resources. I started to imagine myself if I were in their shoes and if I did

not have access to food. Throughout the course, I learned that his feeling was called

verstehen. The produce that we were available at the warehouse allowed to notice how

serious the problem of hungriness in Detroit really was. The knowledge of how I feel

when I am hungry and what I eat to satisfy my body is completely different than the

minimal food they get to satisfy their hunger. I can better understand the situation these

people are going through. Their lives look difficult and undeveloped where they cannot

enjoy the luxuries of having extra goods around. This corresponds with a reading we did
in class we did half way into the semester called Cultural Fears. According to

Glassner, poverty is one of the fears that society should be worried about. The

experience I got filling orders made me realize how drastic people in poverty are

suffering. If food banks where not around how will people be able to stay nourished and

alive. Not having to fully focus on providing food can help lessen the negative decisions

people might do to in the future.

As I interacted with the other volunteers, I noticed that the people that were there

were mostly white and most of them are not even from Detroit (mostly from Troy or

Pontiac). This surprised me because I would have thought it was a mix of people who

come from Metro Detroit to help the people who are hungry. I started to ask myself why

are other people more involved in volunteering at a food bank in Detroit consistently

more than others in the surrounding area. A probable cause for this is that these people

are more socially integrated with their community and their values of giving back is

what will motivate them to drive 40 minutes to volunteer at a food bank in Detroit. This

passion of bringing their families every Saturday can be rooted from the social groups

that motivate them and take initiative to give back. Their churches, schools, workplace,

might inform people the ongoing problem with hungriness and encourage volunteering.

Eventually, it becomes a habit for the individual and they consistently help the

community. Some of these social groups I was able to point out while doing the orders

where from churches. The churches receive orders from Gleaners and then they

distribute it to the people are hungry. The church being integrated in the community are

a site to attract people who are hungry. A reason that not many people come from

Detroit is because people are probably not fully aware of the problem of hunger in
Detroit. As discussed recently in class media rarely portrays poverty and people

being hungry to the masses. If people are not exposed to the social problem then they

will not think about helping out in a food bank and possibly spend their time doing

something else. Another interesting thing I saw was parents will bring their children to

volunteer. This will also cause the child to grow up and do the same thing and be

socially integrated in helping food banks. This cultural transmission is continued as

the social groups keep initiating integration to food banks.

At the end of the day, the volunteer coordinator gave the quick summary

on how we did with all the projects. All together, we packaged enough food to help feed

20,000 families. I noticed that the food that they give them is so minimal and that they

get enough food to just survive. I did not expect so many people are reliant on food

banks to have food on their table for the next day. However, the amount of impact all

the volunteers have on the community is breath taking and encourages me to keep

helping as much as I can.

Karmanos 02/20/2018 (4 hours):

After taking on more calls of moving patients from place to place and doing some

tasks from the supervisor by myself, I began notice some features of the hospital I didn’t

get to see before. By being more exposed to more sections of the hospitals and how

people interacted with one another, I started to notice a similar pattern going on at any

place I went to. The hospital seemed to have its own environment. People seemed to

do the same thing at elevators, waiting for the doctor, and even when having

conversations with one another. Slowly I grew accustomed to this environment and I

slowly began to adopt it myself. I felt more comfortable and it allowed me to mind my
own business without it getting awkward. Looking back at these experiences, I see that

the hospital consists of a shared system where values, attitudes, behavior, and

lifestyles of a group that is distinct from, but connected to, the dominant culture

of a society. This makes the hospital a subculture. The subculture is made up of

material and nonmaterial components. The material components can consist of the

equipment they use, clothing, the foods they eat. The type of clothes that staff members

generally wear are the same throughout the hospital. They consist of business casual,

scrubs or even a white coat. This reflects the value that is recognized by the people

throughout the country in which people must dress professionally at work. The

differences that makes it a subculture is the use of scrubs or lab coat that might not be

seen in a different work place. If a person, does not follow the right way of dressing up,

people will look at the person in a weird way or even might get a talk with their

supervisors. However, the same does not apply to patients. Patients are not obligated to

dress up professionally. Once a while there will be those patients that wear clothes that

is normal to their own culture but looked as being strange to others who are adapted to

common culture in the United States. Before taking this course, I would have been

ethnocentric and looked down upon at what the patients wore and tell myself who

would wear these clothes in public. However, I now understand that this process of

thinking is wrong. I slowly began to see that the way they are dressing is just as normal

as if a someone was dressing up in jeans and a shirt. The practice of cultural

relativism made me realize that each person culture is different and we should look at

them in their own terms. Ever since learning that concept I am always trying to integrate

it when I am exposed to another person’s culture or discussing a person’s culture with

my peers. The equipment used is unique to the hospital and it is also not found in other

work places. Another aspect of the material component is the food that the staff and

patients eat. Spending long hours at the hospital with no food is a difficult thing to do for

most people. Eating from the same restaurants brings people is a shared characteristic

that solidifies the material components of subculture together.

The nonmaterial components are much profound. The basic norms and values

that are present in the United States are also found in the hospital. For example, holding

the elevator or door for someone, walking on the right side of the hallway, being good

and respectful to others. Other specific norms are being quiet in hallways where

patients are, respecting patients with courtesy, preventing contamination, and most

importantly staying in line with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

(HIPPA). These nonmaterial cultures are common patterns of behaviors and interaction

found in the hospital. Deviating from these norms will make it uncomfortable for the

individual and for others. Depending on the norm that is broken, the punishment by

society may be minor or severe. A minor punishment from breaking a folkway, that I

experienced was when a nurse got mad at a volunteer and told him watch where he

was going while pushing a patient on a wheelchair. He was on the wrong side and got

too close to him when he also pushing a chair. The volunteer did not get kicked out or

got in trouble by hire officials but just a sarcastic remark and a dirty look from the nurse.

The reaction the volunteer got from the nurse is understandable and normal. This is

because it is a weak norm that only specify proper behavior. If we go against these

folkways, then punishment will be minimum. It would be surprising if the nurse took the

volunteers name down reported him to someone. The same day interestingly, someone
(do not know if he was a student or a doctor) was with another doctor in an elevator. I

was with him and a patient with some other people. While we were waiting for the

elevator to go up, the person was discussing private information about the patients like

their names and treatment. I was not focused on what he was saying about them but

the other doctor stopped him and started to explain what he did was wrong in an

aggressive manner. She was telling him that he is violating HIPPA and this kind of

behavior was unacceptable. When it was time for them to leave the person’s face bright

red and the doctor did not say another word to him. If it was not for my experience in the

health care at work I would have not known why the doctor got so mad at the person. In

health care, violating HIPPA involves serious consequences from the government.

There can be fines from $100 to $50,000 per violation and a maximum penalty of $1.5

million per year. This does not include possible termination of employment or losing

one’s license. Also, giving away a person’s privacy is looked down upon in the United

States where privacy is important to individuals. Violating HIPPA is violating a more

and constitutes a severe punishment.

An observation that caught my attention was how some visitors who did not know

English were lost in finding the location they wanted to go to. As they caught my

attention I went over and asked to help. They looked at me for a second then told me

they don’t understand. They tried to explain what they needed using gestures but I had

no idea what they wanted. So, I took them to the nearest reception center and asked if

they knew where they had to go. Eventually, they took the patients name and found the

location, as I led them here. This experience with someone who did not understand

English made it evident that language is an important tool to communicate. It made

me think about how having a shared language is needed for society to function. If the

visitors knew the language they could have asked anyone for directions and that barrier

of miscommunication would have been avoided.

Gleaners 03/10/2018 (2.5 hours):

Instead of packaging food as I did for the first couple of times of volunteering at

Gleaners, I decided to sign up and give out food to the people in need for the first time. I

did not know what to expect once I got there. I always knew that they take this food

somewhere and give it out to people, but never did I experience it firsthand. Once I got

there, I signed in and started to help setting up the place. They had a huge boxes and

pallets similar to what we did when we packaged them in trucks. Slowly they started to

set up a variety of products spread out through the building. There were also seats that

were like the ones found in a cafeteria. After setting the place we were ready to start up

the event.

When people started to come in, the amount of people that came in did not

surprise me. The reason for this is because when I volunteered at during the previous

times, the volunteer supervisor made it clear made it clear that a lot of people were

hungry. Also, prior knowledge from my economics class demonstrated that money is not

distributed equally and that not a lot of people have money to support themselves. The

part that surprised me the most was the way people expressed themselves. When

people were walking in, some people were shy and others we seemed like they knew

the place. The ones that were shy, I felt like they knew that coming in and asking for

food felt was just as if they were begging for money. There were others that came in

chatting with the staff and seemed to enjoy their time. They all came in and started to
wait in lines to get the produce they wanted. Once I started to think why these people

were acting so different from each other, the concept of self became evident. The

people that were shy perhaps had a negative connotation that this is wrong and they

feel ashamed about it. According to Cooley, these people must imagine how going to

the food bank is going to make them look “pathetic” or “lazy”. The second step of the

process is that they might imagine us looking at them in a negative manner. They might

think that we will see them as lazy and not motivated to work. The last step is they react

based on the reactions we are going to give them. All together, these people start to pull

themselves down and is an example how society affects a person’s mind and show it in

their self. They are probably going to food banks because it is the only choice left to

feed their children and themselves.

On the other hand, people who seem like nothing is wrong perhaps have some

modes of neutralization to prevent them from feeling negatively about themselves.

Going from observations and stories while volunteering, I started to assume some

reasons why these people are not as affected. Most of the people that came in where

elderly. They probably think to themselves that I am too old to work and food banks like

these are the only way I can get food. Other types of neutralizations that people can tell

themselves is that I do not want to do any bad decisions I will regret later or this is just

temporary until I find a job. Collectively, these people are going to not feel as bad about

themselves and be able to live on with the actions they are doing. These types of

neutralizations can be argued are not valid because these people are poor because of

their individual merit. It can be said that the people cannot afford food because they

have not worked hard enough to currently support themselves and in the future. Their
troubles are the reason why they are not successful. My thoughts about poverty being

not only about individual merit solidified when learning about it class but it was the story

of a mother during volunteering that changed my perspective on poverty. As people

were getting the produce they wanted, there was also food that was being given out to

volunteers and to the people that were coming in. When I was eating I started to chat

with one of the mothers. Eventually, she was telling me how she must pay bills, take

care of her family, and go to school at the same time. She also added that that she

works two jobs while going to school and that food banks helps relive their financial

issue. Listening to her made me realize that people out there rely on food banks to help

get through the day and stay nourished and that it is not only about their troubles.

People are not given an opportunity to have a luxurious life. They are putting every

effort they can to ensure their family to stay healthy. Currently food banks are not a

solution to the social problem of hunger but more of an institution to treat the

symptoms. Food banks serves to alleviate hunger from those who are in need. It does

not provide the people with a steady source of food but what the food banks has

available. Also, without volunteers, the food banks will not be able to function properly

because no food would be packaged.

Karmanos 04/03/2018 (4 hours):

The hospital that seemed overwhelming with all the different locations does not

confuse me anymore. Now used to the hospital, the volunteer supervisor made asked

me to do some patient care in floor different floors. This involved me to go to each room

and asked patients if they needed any refreshments like water, coffee, or juice. The

different experiences that I had each with each room made me more empathetic to the
patients with cancer. Once again, I caught myself practicing the concept of verstehen.

It made me realize that this concept can be found anywhere I go to and it does not have

to be in certain times or location. Connecting with the patients allows to understand the

behaviors of patients. When I was in the room with the patients some of them told me

that they cannot wait to leave the hospital and that they feel prisoned. They are always

being reminded about their condition. However, the opposite if true when they are

getting ready to leave after they finished their treatment and a “cancer free”. The

patients were filled with joy and gave me a hug. The patient then said that she is going

to miss us and all the help we gave her. Once thing that caught my attention was when

the patient said that they were going to live their lives normally again. This brings back

the concept of resocialization once more. Now the patients no longer have to live the

hospital life and now begin to adapt to their previous way of living. The part that broke

my heart was when there were some rooms I don’t go into because the patients

requested that they do not want to see others in order to spend their last moments with

their family. Understanding how they lived their lives, I would give them more snacks

than they are usually used to.

While I was going through the floors, the doctors and nurses seemed to know

what I was going to do right when I go to the nurse’s station. They immediately gave me

the information that I needed to know and went on my way to do my task. I took note at

how the staff there understand my roles and responsibilities as a volunteer and

allowed me to access the information. Sometimes my roles get strained when I am

going to each level and a nurse asks to take a patient to another location. The same

conflict also happens patients also ask me to take them. Even though that is my main
job as a volunteer, I cannot go and drop my whatever I am doing to help them out even

though they are in need. When I explained the situation, the nurses were fine about it

and ended up either calling up a volunteer or moving a patient themselves. Some

patients seemed to keep asking but eventually stopped and they were on their way. At

times when I am not busy and a patient comes up to me for directions, I more than

happy to help. If I declined to help, this would have been a contradiction my status as

volunteer. From there, I would be violating a folkway or more depending at the situation

and a punishment might follow.

Volunteering at Karmanos provides me an opportunity to build experience in a

hospital environment while helping patients out. I started to wonder why most people

who are striving to get into medical school are not part of this program. A couple of

reason that became evident as I went back and forth to the hospital is that people might

not have the chance to go there because they do not a means of transportation or does

not have enough time to volunteer since they are working a lot of hours to get through

paying tuition. Even though it was explicitly mentioned in class, I feel like that

volunteering at the hospital seemed as a privilege and an opportunity that some

people do not have a chance to do. The idea of it being privileged about when we

learned about the power elite in class. This is similar to how the power elite can go to

prestigious schools while most people attend public schools due to their social class

and position in life. The same concept also applies to my health. I am able to live a

healthy life and can push patients around for four hours while some of my peers my age

who must consistently go to the hospital due to their illness. The different opportunities
and privileges gives people certain advantages over others that could also lead to

further inequality between different social classes.