Service Learning Brain Dump: thoughts thought / lessons learned

— arrive early, find parking -easy-, look for signs of Sandy few at first then many, smell the ocean, feel the quiet morning streets, watch as the reality replaces preconceptions  —

remember the impact of going to a real place

— anticipation plus first-time-nerves “can we actually do this, how will it work, what will it be like, will it be worthwhile, what are we forgetting” —

think of what your students will be thinking

— our morning meeting place is closed – ack!  my word it’s cold here on the sidewalk, where will we go to the bathroom? rescued by community partner + local business,  (is Best Western ‘local’?) and who is supposed to be helping whom here —

logistics are key, have a backup plan, be ready to think on your feet

— who are these new people, ‘field guides’, nobody told me!  roll with it, rearrange groups, reconfigure plans, off we go —

 be flexible, be open, build a good relationship with your community partner

— these teeny tiny alley entrances!  a different world, a forgotten, sunken world.  first house, deep breath, knock knock nobody home, second house mean dog + haze of smoke + ‘no thanks’, third house nobody home, is this it? —

stepping out of your comfort zone is disturbing…

— fourth house, friend of our guide, doors open, mouths open, eyes and minds open, the survey gets done but the story is the real thing, images so strong, the water pouring over the mouth of the alley, the shouts of neighbors, the uselessness of hip waders in neck-high water, rescuing people, rescuing dogs, gathering in the tall building at the far end of the alley, the aftermath, the rebuilding, the bureaucracy, where is the aid?, opportunistic politicians,  heroism from the department of sanitation —

…which can open you up to powerful experiences

— one more house, no english, limping half-remembered-spanish through the questions, kids laughing show off english skills when we get stuck, leave with survey data and a smile —

your life skills might turn out to be essential – what a message

— lunch, reflection, pretty windows & water, stories, a shared understanding —

can we give our students this?

4 thoughts on “Service Learning Brain Dump: thoughts thought / lessons learned

  1. I like your question, Can we give this to our students? Absolutely! I think as educators, it is our moral duty to inculcate these values in our students. Compassion for fellow humans and our obligation as citizens to help other citizens in need. Regardless of what discipline we teach, the first lesson of education should be about our obligation to the society and empathy for fellow humans.

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