Updates in Service-Learning - Spring 2014
Spring Staycation is a five day project that takes place during WMU’s Spring Break and is sponsored by the Office of Service-Learning, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and First Year Experience. With their help, we were able to provide students with complimentary breakfast and lunch, transportation, and off campus activities. Spring Staycation is dedicated to raising awareness about social topics in the Kalamazoo community to a select group of Western students. Each day a different social topic is introduced and discussed, and is then accompanied by activities to enhance the understanding of each topic.
This year we had nine students, who have never met prior, participate in the weeklong event. With the facilitation of Richard Szwaja, a WMU instructor, these nine students learned a tremendous amount about social justice, themselves, the community, and one another. The topics for the week included: teen violence, health equity, autism spectrum, and mental illness. Students spent each morning learning about the various topics and in the afternoon traveled off campus to off-campus locations interacting with individuals from each population. At the end of each day, the students had a reflection activity to unfold their learnings from the day. The students’ growth from the beginning of the week until the end was remarkable. Every student reported that this was a transformative experience; they stated that they are more open minded and empathetic, and expressed appreciation for having had this opportunity.
A few weeks after spring break, students from this year’s Staycation gathered with those from previous years for a reunion during which they were able to continue relationships and reflect on their experiences. Students overwhelmingly reported that they will maintain these relationships, as well as their presence in the community. Thus far, students have been actively engaged in volunteer efforts in the community and keep in touch on a regular basis through in-person and social media contacts.
Spring 2014 Community Partners:
Campus Public Safety
Advocacy Services for Kids
Cheff Therapeutic Riding Center
Ministry with Community
Big Brothers Big Sisters
Alternative Learning Program
KRESA West Campus
Youth Offender Transition Program
Spring 2014 Instructors:
Service-Learning Final Projects - Spring 2014 brought our office some new service-learning instructors and community partners. Of the many service-learning final projects, our office was able to attend the following classes: Jamie Crandell- social work, Cheri Bales-communication, and Brian Gogan-english.
Jamie Crandell’s Social Work 4600 class partnered with Lakeside Academy, a youth and family services program that focuses on the confrontation and redirection of negative behavior while recognizing desired, positive behavior. The students’ project was to complete a needs assessment by connecting and learning from the Lakeside students. A select group of Lakeside students was chosen to participate in the project, allowing Western students to get to know them on a more personal level. WMU students met at Lakeside five times throughout the semester to develop these relationships. The project was extremely successful and both the Lakeside students and Western students reported that this was a positive experience.
Cheri Bales Communication 3320 Group Problem Solving class worked with WMU Public Safety to develop a project plan to educate students on public safety on campus. Her class worked in groups and each group created a different plan of action, of which they presented to a representative from WMU’s Public Safety Department. Students worked with public safety to gain general knowledge of practices that have been implemented and are currently being used on campus. Following this research, students presented suggestions to enhance future relationships between public safety and students. Each group then devised a yearlong plan to increase the awareness of public safety on Western’s campus for students. Students created timelines, marketing materials and planned events to encourage students to become more aware of what public safety offers on campus.
Brian Gogan’s English 4060 Proposals and Pitches, Grant Writing for Professionals class worked with two partners, Advocacy Services for Kids (ASK) and the Adult Literacy Council. Students were divided into two groups; one group worked with ASK, the other with the Adult Literacy Council. Students spent the semester connecting with each organization and conducting research from which they wrote and presented a grant proposal to each community partner. Their final project consisted of presenting their work to a panel of individuals from each organization and then having the community organization choose the grant proposal that best fit their needs. Students gained a greater understanding about both ASK and the Adult Literacy Council and were able to develop their writing and public speaking skills as well. We offer our huge congratulations to all Spring 2014 service-learning classes!
President’s Honor Roll Submission The Office of Service-Learning worked diligently on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll application. Last year, for the first time, the university earned a place on the Honor Roll with distinction, an honor bestowed on only 100 colleges and universities that applied. We anxiously await work on the outcome of this year’s application. Participation among community partners, instructors, and students dramatically increased this year, and we are encouraged to keep growing and striving so that more students experience a service-learning class.