By Service-Learning Program Assistant Asta MacKie
Northeastern University is well known for encouraging students to gain learning experiences abroad, and Service-Learning plays an important role in this opportunity. Read on to learn from some of the faculty members and past and present Service-Learning Student Leaders in our network about their own experiences participating in Service-Learning while abroad in Greece! To learn more about opportunities in Zambia, Ecuador, Ireland, and the United Kingdom, check out our series on the S-Log!
N.U.in Thessaloniki, Greece
Service-Learning in the N.U.in Program in Thessaloniki, Greece seeks to integrate students in to their local communities in order to promote a collaborative relationship between locals and visiting students. Projects vary greatly, from English tutoring to city cleanups, but each seeks to engage the student in a reflective service experience abroad.
Sophia Gunzburg and Kylie Schreck from the Service-Learning Street Team both spent their first semester of freshman year participating in beautification and clean-up service projects around Thessaloniki, varying from gardening to cleaning up graffiti in schools. In doing these projects, students gained valuable experience in learning how to communicate and collaborate with community members despite language barriers, a very important skill for students wishing to pursue global co-ops or careers. Additionally, the students gained a new understanding about what it means to be a visitor in a new space, something that Service-Learning encourages both abroad and in Boston. “It was really important for us to do this service because there were about 200 students coming in to this new city and this was our way to say thank you to the locals for welcoming us into this space with open arms despite any cultural differences or language barriers,” explains Sophia, “I think they were really grateful for our efforts and everyone was excited to make the connection.”
Kylie shared that this experience was pivotal in her understanding of asset-based community development, a key component of Service-Learning that emphasizes the importance of educating oneself about the community in which they are entering and using the resources that resources already exist to channel their efforts. “I think it’s important to communicate with the people that we’re working with so we can ensure we’re actually meeting their goals and supporting them,” she says on her experience. Furthermore, Service-Learning abroad helps to cultivate a group of civically engaged students upon their return to campus, and both Kylie and Sophia sought to continue their involvement in the program through the Street Team. “I was so inspired by this experience that when I came back to Northeastern, I made sure to enroll in the Service-Learning course Inquiries in Biology and later joined the Service-Learning Street Team. I felt proud to be at Northeastern and know that [the other students in Service-Learning] were my peers,” says Sophia, “These experiences have made me so appreciative of the Service-Learning program for cultivating a great environment within and outside our campus.”
Are you interested in starting your own Service-Learning journey in Greece? Check out the upcoming Dialogue of Civilizations: Genocide and Its Aftermath in Greece!
Sources: Kylie Schreck, Sophia Gunzburg, and Northeastern University N.U.in Program
Are you inspired to set out on your own Service-Learning journey abroad? Check out these upcoming Dialogue of Civilizations for Summer 2018!