Service Learning unites classroom and community

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Students in the Foreign Language department use skills they learn in the classroom to benefit the community.

With its strong commitment to community service and volunteering, the Foreign Language department service-learning opportunities are no surprise. Unlike typical volunteerism, service-learning incorporates projects into real-life. This allows students to apply the skills that they have acquired in the classroom to the community to see the relevance of their academics in society.

While there are various service-learning projects offered during the school year, most are for the benefit of English Language Learners, particularly Spanish-speakers and children. Dr. Jennifer Colon and Dr. Amaya Amell, both professors of Spanish, require their students to participate in one of these service-learning projects for the duration of their classes. The higher the course level, the more hours that students are expected to volunteer.

Hannah Bruins and Moriah Vanderburg, juniors, direct the Iglesia Camino Vida y Verdad, one of the most popular service-learning programs for the College’s Spanish students, for two years. The program, which aims to assist children with their homework and English competency, has already had volunteers. The waitlist is continuing to grow as more people are requesting to participate.

Moriah Vanderburg, junior, working with local students through the Service Learning program.
Moriah Vanderburg, junior, working with local students through the Service Learning program.

Vanderburg, a Spanish and secondary education major, has benefited from this experience. Besides being able to practice teaching children and seeing the cultural aspect of a language, she has been able to form close bonds with the people with whom she works.

“Some of these kids come from troubled homes, so after helping them with homework, it’s our job to play with them and be good role models,” Vanderburg said. “I get so happy to go every week. It’s a great feeling to be recognized by the children and to have them smile and hug you. We try to help the other volunteers have that same experience and make their hearts for service grow,” Vanderburg said.

While this program has already reached the maximum amount of volunteers, there are many similar projects still available. Students interested in participating in any service-learning activities can visit the College’s homepage at http://www.jewell.edu/servicelearning to access available projects.

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