By Emily Breen
You may enroll in a service-learning class for various reasons – whether you’re major requires it, you need it to graduate, or your professor just happens to be passionate about service. Whatever the case may be, service-learning is one of Northeastern’s best assets and it is truly an invaluable experience. Here are seven service-learning secrets I have learned through being an S-L student and Street Team member:
- Communicate with your S-LTA – Your S-LTA is there as your guide for all things service-learning. They have all been involved in service-learning in some way and are there to help make your service-learning experience fun and rewarding. They can help you with communication problems with your community partner, advice about fitting service-learning into your schedule, and logging your hours. Your S-LTA’s are there because they had a great experience in the service-learning program at Northeastern and they want you to have just as great of an experience.
- Communicate with your faculty member – There is a reason your faculty member chose to make their class a service-learning class. Ask them about it. Find out why they value service and how they think it relates to your class. Your professor will undoubtedly have valuable and interesting insight about the service-learning experience.
- Know your community partner – This one is huge. You can’t serve somewhere without understanding their mission. Go on their website, talk to contacts at the organization, ask previous students who did service-learning there. No matter how you do it, find out what this organization is trying to achieve, what population they are serving, their methods, etc. This way, everyone will benefit as much as possible.
- Know the community – This in another important one, and something that goes along with knowing your community partner. Knowing where you are working involves understanding the population that lives in the neighborhood or uses the services you are helping to provide, and understanding the location. One way to learn about your community is…The Street Team!
- Use the street team – The Street Team, known fondly by some as The Dream Team, is a resource for service-learning students. The team provides tours to students, showing them where their community partner is located while educating them about the surrounding neighborhood. It is a great way to get to know the community you’re going to be a part of for the semester and getting more comfortable with your service-learning experience overall.
- Be present – After all of these steps are complete you are set up for a fantastic service-learning experience. But, the rest is up to you. Every time you go to your organization, remember what the goal is. Forget about other things going on in your life, the big test you have on Thursday, or the laundry you need to do later. Focus on being present and giving your all to the service-learning experience
- Enjoy it – Service-Learning should not be something you groan at because you’re already busy enough as it is. At least it shouldn’t be by the end of your experience. Enjoy what you are doing, and find the value in it. Remember that you are helping others, and they are helping you. Remember the hyphen in service-learning and why you are there. In the end, I am sure you will find that service-learning brought a lot of value to your life.
Emily was a member of the spring 2015 Service-Learning Street Team.