PASSION: A Volunteers Pledge

I grew up in a small Louisiana town. There were no architects, and arguably no architecture. It was not until high school before I met an architect, my 11th grade electives teacher.  He was positively unexpected, thus changing my perception of environment.

In 2008 I was introduced to the AIA Architecture in Schools program. It reminded me of my high school professor’s influence, so I signed up. As the program unfolded, I realized there was a more complex driving force than merely influence; it was the chance to be a community role model. In my fifth year as a volunteer I continue to humor myself and think these kids know that I have a choice of how I spend my time and I chose them. But maybe they do.

A quote from a 4th grader at Pease Elementary after completing the program:

"Thank you so much for teaching about architecture. I learned a lot, like about the rain barrel and how you recycle rain water to water your garden and other things that need watering. I also didn't know that windmills make electricity/energy. My favorite activity was the final project, because kids don't get to build buildings and we got to build our own buildings. This knowledge will help me a lot, because I know now that you can conserve and express yourself with architecture. I will tell people to recycle and learn about architecture. I think we are very lucky that you guys took time out of your day to come here to do wonderful things with us."

The time we devote to others as volunteers is selfless, and if it is thought of as sacrifice it will be short lived. My drive for continuing to propel the program comes from passion. Passion of my peers and colleagues who continue to give their time freely and the students passion I can read from quotes like the one above. Maybe that’s what I saw in my 11th grade electives teacher.

If you would like to find out more about this incredibly responsible program, contact the AIA Austin office.

John Cameron, AIA
Architecture in Schools Committee Chair, 2012