S-L Student & Faculty Reflections

#CapturingCommunity: Shelbe Van Winkle

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Name: Shelbe Van Winkle
Role within Service-Learning: Service-Learning Team Manager and Service-Learning Teaching Assistant for Becoming a Global Leader

What is one thing everyone should know about Service-Learning?
I think everyone should know about the fluidity of Service-Learning. It’s something of practice, planning, learning, and reflecting, however, the best thing about it is that no matter how much prep work is done, something is always going to go differently than expected. My favorite example of this, is from one of my students in the class I am an S-LTA for. She is working with families who are experiencing homelessness, and was expecting to work with the children to establish creative outlets for them to participate in. She ended up working with the mothers due to a scheduling conflict, and is now leading basic driver’s education workshops for the women, using youtube videos and her own infographics. It is not in any way what she expected, but I think that’s the beauty of it, somethings don’t go the way we expect, and that’s okay, because we are working with real people and human nature tends to be unpredictable. I think it really captures the S-L experience.

Did you find Service-Learning or did Service-Learning find you?
Service-Learning definitely found me. During the fall my sophomore year I was looking at dialogues, and was convinced by a friend to sign up for the Driving Social Change Dialogue in Zambia. I went for it, and applied – only a little bit about what the overall experience would be like. The next semester I was abroad on co-op so I naturally missed all of the information meetings, and pretty much just showed up to Zambia knowing very little about what Service-Learning meant, and what I would be doing. Next thing I know I was creating my second coop from one of the Service-Learning locations, then TAing the next Zambia Dialogue, then signing up to be an S-LTA, then eventually an S-LTM. I very much fell right into every role, but it worked out for the best.

If Service-Learning were an animal, what would it be and why?
A flock of geese during the winter, because it always has a direction in mind, but sometimes the v-shape doesn’t always work out perfectly.

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