January 2010


Welcome back students!

Speaking of returning young minds, I ran a Citizenship Luncheon, based on the ideas and themes of Sekou Sundiata’s The America Project, with RAs. It was an eventful Saturday afternoon. The Residence Hall Advisors all participated in service this past Saturday morning and then they reconvened back in the Martin Auditorium, where they ate lunch and talked about service, voting, being American, etc. I explained to them that active citizenship is important and one by one, they approached the microphone in true open mic fashion.

I think my favorite comment was about trying to become a citizen of the world. Of course, people reminisced about how current events affect their lives: Haiti, today’s election (everyone go vote!), and Avatar.

I had a guest speaker from New York City, Cara Wood, talk about her experiences as a member of the Fourth Estate and she challenged the students to think about their own community and making a difference through the shared languages we all create among our family at Stonehill.

The biggest support came from the Residence Life staff, like Jeany Cadet who not only sponsored the event but gave it the extra pizzaz it needed, with confetti and red, white and blue table cloths.

All in all, it was successful.

Feel free to contact me anytime to learn how to run your own Citizenship luncheon/dinner!

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In the past month, there have been a couple different articles questioning the actual service projects colleges and universities have been using in their community-based learning courses:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/03/education/edlife/03service-t.html?pagewanted=1

http://chronicle.com/blogPost/Does-Service-Learning-Really/20461/?sid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en

Both articles bring up very sound arguments. How does doing an oral history project at a soup kitchen make the lives of its clients better? How do we “measure” mentoring? How does a one-day service project in the community advance the social justice issues brought to make some serious change?

On top of the project itself, does it end up being more work for the community organization staff to train and teach college students, who might only stick around for the duration of a semester?

Here in the OCBL, we definitely hear the cries of our community partners and the problems they continue to face everyday concerning these legitimate complaints. Where is the reciprocity in our service-learning?

It seems to me that as much as some may not want to hear this, it needs to start with the faculty bringing about the change and forming sustainable partnerships with specific community organizations.

Though our office is heading in the direction of committed social change through our work in these classes, we are not close to the point of having them. At this point, we are still working on spreading the gospel of what CBL is, our vision for the future, and trying to coordinate and recruit faculty to teach service-learning. The more people we get on board with us, the more likely we are to (cross your fingers) produce syllabi that reflect the community’s wished-for outcomes as well as student experience.

However long a haul this may prove to be, we hope our faculty will start to take their work in the community to the next level and respond to these articles accordingly.