Reflection on Tigers in Tanzania 2015
This year marks the third time I have taken a group of Clemson students to Tanzania for a service-learning experience, followed by an incredible safari through Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater. This year we partnered with the University of North Carolina Wilmington. In total, 18 students and two faculty traveled to Tanzania for 16 days of service, connections, and sightseeing. It began on the campus of The University of Dar es Salaam. Here, we met with a class of education students and discussed the cultural differences between Tanzania and the United States in regards to race relations and sports. This was an eye opening experience, to say the least, given the current race issues in America.
We spent the next four days at an orphanage in the poorest parts of Dar es Salaam, where we helped with painting, planting, and general repairing. Clemson students connected with the children through dance and meals when we shared food, laughs, tears, and many hugs. Prior to the trip, the students in the creative inquiry class discussed the importance of the “white savior complex,” and we worked to not fall into that mind set. Ultimately, we have continued to remind ourselves that although these specific Clemson students may never return to the orphanage, Clemson University will. It is this sustainable component of partnership and family that is most important for both groups. Clemson University has maintained a connection with this particular orphanage for six years and has raised funds for sustainable initiatives, including assisting the purchase of a deed for land and, on the most recent trip, buying 100 bags of cement that could be used to build a new boarding house.
The second week was a completely different experience. Our group jumped on a plane and traveled north to teach in an elementary school at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro. We brought boxes of school supplies and showed the teachers how to use them as well. We also spent two days teaching in the classrooms. Still in the rainy season, it was a very sloppy, muddy hike up the mountain (vehicles could not even make it into the village). We decided, though, there was no shame in teaching with mud all over us—it was simply a sign we embraced the season and culture as outsiders, even if the children did get a chuckle at our expense.
Finally our trip ended, as in previous years, with an incredible three day journey through the Serengeti National Park, one of the most famous parks in the world. We were so fortunate to see rhinos, elephants, hippos, and a portion of the wildebeest migration. At one point, we even saw 19 lions and cubs in a single tree—a sight our guide even admitted was very rare.
Overall, the trip continued to be a life altering experience for many students and faculty. We spent three days with no power or water, we ate with our hands (as is the custom) and we interacted with hundreds of children from Tanzania. We also recognized that what the people of Tanzania taught us was far more than we even could have brought or taught to them. “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all” was an Aristotle quote written on the back of our shirts. After the trip, we can say we have come back with a full heart and a more open mind. This trip will run again in May of 2017. Any students interested should contact Dr. Arthur-Banning (email@example.com).
Reflection on Roots Grow Deep
Becoming a Service-Learning Faculty Fellow gave me the shove I needed to extend concepts I was teaching into a real-world application. The process was a bit sobering, with regard to the challenge of pulling off a successful and meaningful experience for my students. I underestimated how much I would have to give of myself to get everything in place. I was lucky to be able to coordinate my efforts with a newly created on-campus project that allowed the students to minimize traveling and to maximize the time spent directly working.
This invasive species removal project was entirely outdoors and therefore presented challenges. Weather was always an issue, and some students were uncomfortable being in the woods. We were using hand tools such as saws and pruners, so safety was a big issue. The surprising part for me was how much (most of) the students really enjoyed working on the project. Their enthusiasm about being physically challenged outside the classroom for only ten percent of their grade was more than I anticipated. It was very satisfying to see their reactions after having taken great care to create a quality experience for them.
Overall, I feel that the experience was a success for both the students and for me. I base this conclusion on the immediate and overwhelmingly positive feedback I received from the students. I plan on involving my other classes in this on-going project, but probably only as extra credit.
Reflection on Feed and Seed
Service-Learning at Clemson University uniquely pairs outreach and research, which creates successful synergies between the classroom and community. I was fortunate to lead the FEED & SEED studio in the School of Architecture in the Fall 2014 semester. The studio focused on the design and development of a food hub for Greenville, which would help solve the disconnection between farmers and consumers in the region.
The partnership between FEED & SEED and Clemson University allowed the design studio to become a laboratory for the development of creative solutions focused on researching food access problems. Students gained valuable experience working with real-world issues, managing clients, and establishing connections to real people and real issues facing the local community. The FEED & SEED gained site and program strategies, which gave a clearer vision before hiring a professional architect. Multiple public presentations by students strengthened FEED & SEED’s relationship with the community, while also providing positive publicity for the project.
One of the most rewarding moments of the class was when my students changed their shopping and eating habits. Several of the students began buying directly from farmers in the region and having conversations about the source of their food. Service learning projects have many hidden advantages. In this case, it educated design students about the advantages of eating local, sustainable food.
I look forward to more opportunities that will bring service learning into the classroom. It is a valuable resource for our students and surrounding communities.
Reflection on Clemson Solar Decathlon
The A+cB Graduate Certificate Program continues to promote community-based initiatives that integrate design, construction, and stakeholder involvement through a Service-Learning approach. Placing Service-Learning as an agenda, students intently focus on community-based design-build projects that demand the engagement of site, place, people, and purpose. For 2015, eleven students were accepted into Clemson’s unique program within the graduate school of Architecture. Applications for admission into the growing certificate continues to swell; with over 70 requests, it is currently the most sought after specialized program for Masters of Architecture students within the School of Architecture and is one of Clemson’s most competitive graduate certificates. Building momentum on the University’s Land Grant mantra, all engaged projects adhere to a set of parameters that hold at its core the values of social impact design, public interest design, and the three pillars of sustainability: social, economic, and environmental. Among the year’s work was the continued participation in Indigo Pine, the Clemson Solar Decathlon project. This team focused on a unique endeavor to build two houses for the competition that demonstrated a construction system called [SIM]ply. One dwelling is located on campus at the South Carolina Botanical Garden, and the other will be constructed at the Great Park in Irvine, California. Named for their respective locations, Indigo Pine East was constructed during the spring and summer, while Indigo Pine West will be built in late September and early October.
The students in the program also dedicated their time to the Cropstop Farm to School Program—a significant collaboration with the Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston and the College of Charleston. Dave Pastre, director of design+build operations at the Center in Charleston, led the Crop-stop Project. He included both graduate students in the certificate program as well as undergraduate students in architecture and landscape architecture. The unique grant/funding opportunity has spawned research focused on healthy communities and economic growth using wood construction and the [SIM]ply system. This year, the program’s team contributed to the completion of the Crop-stop 1 (located on John’s Island in Charleston) and began construction on Crop-stop 2 (located in Greenville).
The Community 1:1 seminar class maintained its engagement with local projects important to the future development of the greater Clemson area. As part of this seminar course, students were invited to work with key community groups to assist development of community-oriented design charrettes and stakeholder feedback opportunities. Community partners are essential to success, and the stream of solicitation for the team’s services buoys the program’s mission. The class continues to collaborate with the Friends of the Green Crescent, a non-profit organization of concerned Clemson citizens. They are dedicated to enhancing transportation opportunities for pedestrians and cyclists and promoting connectivity.
Likewise, the team also advanced other pivotal projects in the community by guiding a pre-design and visioning phase for the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Clemson, as well as completing the design phase for the Upstate Equine Council for a new set of “pocket kiosks.” These will be placed at the Butch Kennedy Trail head/Garrison Arena Complex and in the Clemson Experimental Forest.
Importantly, the 11 students enrolled in the program conducted a handful of public charrettes, stakeholder meetings, and public presentations that included more than 400 participants from the greater Clemson area. These set the foundation for future student work, as it directly connects to the community needs that will further contribute to a healthy environment. Design plays an important and respected role. As the program grows and matures, the objectives of reinforcing Clemson University’s mission will proceed as follows: to engage students within the school and the community in order to create a sustainable, service-oriented learning and living environment. This will continue to serve as the driving force for future teaching, research, and scholarship endeavors.
Reflection on Clemson Solar Decathlon
Reflection on Clemson Curates: Experience through Exhibition My Fall 2014 advanced composition course partnered with the Center for the Visual Arts to launch Clemson Curates, a program designed to increase collaboration across disciplines. It invited Clemson faculty to collaborate with the CVA in order to propose, organize, promote, and curate public exhibitions. Students in my course partnered with the Lee Gallery and The High Museum in Atlanta to stage an exhibition of regional MFA artwork, Corporeal Complexities. As an experiential learning course, students collaborated with design, marketing, and PR professionals to learn hard skills such as how to use Adobe programs, how to write press releases, how to produce logos that meet branding standards, and how to develop and execute a marketing strategy. Students learned to write in multimodal contexts for a real-world audience all while promoting civic engagement.
This course demonstrated the many ways in which the arts can strengthen community. Our partnership with The High Museum established relationships with professionals in the art world outside the Clemson community and increased the visibility of the University as a regional leader in the arts. Moreover, Corporeal Complexities provided a service by inviting our community to reflect on the ways that we all negotiate our bodies and what it means to have a body. The artists and my students considered this question from numerous perspectives in visual and written media: from a biological perspective, in medical terms, in a spiritual sense, and from the perspective of body ableness and disability. Art invites discussion; discussion leads to greater understanding.
Arelis Moore de Peralta
Reflection on Building Healthy Communities in Latin America and the Carribean
The Faculty Fellows Program has been a great opportunity to personally grow as an instructor and mentor. I have incorporated service-learning strategies into two undergraduate creative inquiry courses.
First, Health and the Hispanic Community (SPAN 497-636) coordinated child enrichment and health care activities in Santiago, Dominican Republic. Service learning motivated my students to assist these disadvantaged groups. Second, in the Building Healthy Communities in the Dominican Republic (HEHD 3990 – 001), which will begin Fall 2015, Clemson students from different majors will be engaged in a cross-cultural, multi-disciplinary, and global health learning experience. They will partner with research track students from the Iberoamerican University (UNIBE) and will also volunteer at both the local school and community theater.
I am also a Clemson Thinks2 Faculty Scholar, which has allowed me to incorporate service learning with critical thinking and creative inquiry strategies. My intention is to leverage Clemson professional development opportunities. I am pursuing this integration in a way that allows me to strengthen my courses’ curricula while simultaneously responding to our university’s academic innovation efforts. I consider myself a social constructivist. Service-learning strategies and my dynamic teaching approach have provided me with a strong foundation to effectively translate a big part of the learning process responsibility to my students. Overall, I believe the addition of service learning to my courses has been positive and rewarding for my students and for myself.
Reflections on Clinics, Camps, and Community
I am a longtime advocate for service learning as it applies lessons from the classroom into the real world and makes the knowledge meaningful and lasting. This service-learning project was built on the compassion and caring that is part of the nursing profession. We worked with individuals in the community who struggle to put a meal on the table or keep a roof over their head, while they also battle health issues. Students benefit from reaching out to those who are less fortunate and, as a result, grow as caring individuals. This past year, every nurse practitioner student had an opportunity to rotate through the Best Chance Network Clinic. It is rewarding to catch the student reflections when they realize the patients often enjoy contributing to the learning process. The partnership is a win for all.
Reflection on Service Learning in K-12
When you think of service learning in K-12 schools, an image of coat drives, park cleanups, or money collection typically comes to mind. This type of service is always needed in our communities and it serves a purpose—the parks are cleaner, money is donated to important charities, and people in need have coats during winter. However, what do the students in the schools learn about why these issues exist? Not much.
Currently, there are several challenges to service learning in schools— they are often inauthentic and unrealistic, added rather than integrated into the curriculum, and there is an overall confusion of the difference between service-learning and volunteerism. The solution to these challenges can provide richer learning experiences for the students and for the communities in which they live. When provided with real-world, authentic problems that are occurring in their community, students not only help the community but become part of the problem-solving. When given the opportunity, students often identify problems that have been plaguing their community and tap into resources to solve the problems differently. For example, when asked to explore the reasons behind the need for canned food drives, students explored the roots of poverty, which included access to transportation, high quality foods (exposing food deserts in their communities), child care issues, and so on. In this way, students are able to really dig into some of the big issues that our world faces and be the change agents that are desperately needed.
Reflection on A Different Kind of Storytelling
My service-learning project married the art of theatre and storytelling with promoting literacy. I developed a class, and we formed a partnership with a 4K classroom at nearby Central Elementary School.
When asked what my favorite part of my service-learning project was, I always mention two things: the faces of the 4K students we were working with when my students entered their classrooms, and the faces of my undergraduate students when we left the classrooms.
These elementary school students were so excited to see the Clemson students consistently, and it was clear they looked up to them as they brought reading, storytelling and theatre into the classrooms. During each visit, I watched my students discover the power of theatre— an art they have decided to devote their lives to—in the world of an underserved classroom.
We read to the students, crafted theatrical games to fully engage them in the situations and ideas of each book we shared, and supplied them with copies of the books we explored.
Reflection on We’ll All Ride On
Service learning is not new to nursing, but our project was unique. We implemented our service-learning project during Fundamentals of Nursing—traditionally a lab and clinic-focused course with primary objectives surrounding skills development. Nursing skills, like Foley catheter insertion or initiating IV access, are integral parts of nursing education. The overall scope of nursing practice is much broader, though. Caring is at the core of nursing, and theories of caring are introduced during Fundamentals of Nursing. This makes the first semester nursing course a great fit for our service-learning project. Objectives for this project include fostering advocacy, social responsibility, and self-care.
Partnering with Momentum Bike Club, Clemson University Accelerated Second Degree nursing students rode bikes weekly with a group of underserved youth. Some of the students were involved in recruitment for a “Girl Power” bike group, specifically for middle-school girls. The recruitment process was challenged by cultural and socio-economic differences, which provided an excellent opportunity for students to self-reflect and gain first-hand experience of the relationship between cultural competence and care.
Our bike group fostered social responsibility and a culture of caring and advocacy among the Accelerated Second Degree nursing students. One student commented, “Before becoming part of the bike club, I was completely unaware of how important it really is to serve in your community.” Another commented, “Many of the girls have very different upbringings than I had, but it has taught me to appreciate every walk of life. Regardless of how we are raised, everyone wants to be loved. Choosing love despite the differences has been life changing.” I observed this culture of caring spill over into the classroom setting as well; this cohort of nursing students was cohesive and supportive of one another. I believe participation in service learning fostered this culture among the students as well as outside the classroom in both community and clinical settings.
Core concepts of social responsibility, caring, and advocacy are crucial developments in nursing education. Social barriers can impede health care, but a culture of caring can break down these walls. Nursing, by sheer numbers, is poised to make a huge difference. As one student stated, “There are many social barriers between the various communities. People tend to only spend time with people that share their interests, affiliations, and socioeconomic status. Momentum Bike Club helps to break down those barriers. This club showed me that I have just as much, if not more, to learn from the middle school riders as they do from me.” This student reflection, among others, indicates a culture of caring indicative of developing cultural competence.
Finally, I wanted to emphasize the importance of self-care early in our nursing curriculum. Self-care is important so that nurses are in the best condition physically, mentally, and emotionally while caring for our clients. Through the years, I have observed that nurses often delay selfcare at a huge expense. Incorporating exercise as a concept in Fundamentals of Nursing allowed students the opportunity to practice what we preach. Nursing school is demanding, but maintaining physical, mental, and emotional health is the key to success. Nurses who value and practice self-care translate into nurses who are well-equipped to meet the needs of their communities.
Service learning is a “win-win!” Students expressed appreciation for the opportunities through our bike club project and were willing to volunteer above and beyond the course’s requirements. Their willingness to volunteer demonstrates the success of fostering social responsibility, caring, and advocacy through this service-learning project. As the instructor, my take-home message is that service-learning opportunities should be implemented early in the nursing curriculum. This has been one of the best opportunities afforded to me as Clemson University School of Nursing faculty.