Waking Up: Virginia Woolf's "Moments of Being" with the Warren Wilson College Service Program

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Freesia McKee


In an essay published after her death, Virginia Woolf discusses the state a person enters when she is completely present in the potential and profundity of a single, transcendent moment. Woolf calls such alerting instances “moments of being” (Woolf 1985, 18-19). In these rare times, we awaken more than usual. Woolf’s articulation of moments of being is one way I have been able to grasp some of the experiences of social injustice I have encountered the four years I’ve attended Warren Wilson, a small liberal arts college in the mountains of Western North Carolina. As one of seven "work colleges" in the country, Warren Wilson requires that every student work fifteen hours a week as part of an on-campus work crew. In addition to on-campus work, each student completes a service commitment with off-campus direct service, policy, and advocacy agencies. This academic year, the college is shifting the service commitment to an experientially based model measured by learning outcomes (Smith 2012), but during my undergraduate years (2008-2012), students met the commitment by completing 100 hours of service over the course of the four years. Twenty-five of these 100 hours were to be completed within a particular "issue area." During my time at Warren Wilson, I struggled to wrap my mind around the idea of separate justice issues. I view separate social justice issues as a school of fish rather than as individual islands.

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McKee, F. (2012). Waking Up: Virginia Woolf’s "Moments of Being" with the Warren Wilson College Service Program. Undergraduate Journal of Service Learning & Community-Based Research, 1, 1–4. https://doi.org/10.56421/ujslcbr.v1i0.77
Reflective Essays