By S-L Street Team Member Mollie McEvoy
When considering the Service-Learning program on campus, many students might not immediately spot the deep-rooted community that has been interwoven between a multitude of disciplines across campus. This lesser known aspect of S-L has been a huge incentive for students to return time and time again to the field. Service-Learning Student Leaders (S-LSLs) have an incredibly unique Northeastern experience and are able to not only bridge a gap between students and professors, but also connect students to the communities surrounding our campus. While Service Learning Teacher Assistants (S-LTAs) attend every class session and Street Team members guide community walks and handle the “behind the scenes” work in the program, there are weekly and bi-weekly meetings taking place throughout the semester to build on the S-L support system and reinforce the learning happening across different experiences from the S-LSLs.
A word often heard in the S-L space is “returners”. This is what the group has nicknamed students that continue to come back semester after semester. This group expands and contracts depending on the year. There are some semesters that have very few returners, but then there are others where an overwhelming amount of students come back for more involvement in the community.
Students involved in the S-L community give glowing reviews about the experience.
Nancy Ho has been a student in an S-L class, an S-LTA, a member of the Street Team, and a Team Manager for groups of S-LTAs. After having been in so many different S-L positions, Nancy defines S-L as “a supportive and unique community that embraces students with every background and belief. You will have the opportunity to meet people who always light up your days!”
Lauren Silva has been similarly involved in the program and has been a student, an S-LTA, and a Street Team member across multiple semesters. When asked about the S-L Community, she stated “The S-L family is unique in that it brings together undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty from all over the university. I have always felt accepted by people in S-L, even during my first semester as a Service-Learning Teaching Assistant. It has also been such a great opportunity to meet individuals who share similar values”
Amanda Tompkins has been a part of many facets of the S-L community, she has been an S-LTA, a Team Manager, in the S-L co-op position, and an S-L office assistant. Amanda has found a community within the S-L space and stated “I will carry all of the memories with me beyond Northeastern. I have made lifelong friends in S-L and I can’t wait to see what we all accomplish!”
Gayathri Raj, who has now been with the S-L team for two semesters as an S-LTA stated that the S-L space is a great place “for networking and for finding other people who consider service to be a really valuable aspect of learning and of life”.
When asked for advice regarding students who are just starting out with S-L or considering joining S-L, our group of returners had the following words of advice:
“Keep an open mind and do not be afraid to put yourself out there because you are going to have an amazing journey.” – Nancy
“Enjoy this opportunity to get to know the community with which you are working!” – Lauren
“Be open-minded because it has potential to be one of your best experiences at Northeastern!” – Amanda
“Give it a shot! You make some really interesting connections and definitely learn a lot of organizational and management skills” – Gayathri
The importance of the community itself within the S-L space might not, at first glance, appear to be as relevant as the work that is being done by S-LSLs, but it is equally as important to the overall S-L mission. Students have benefitted from the bonds formed in the organization and have gained a larger sense of belonging here on Northeastern’s campus.