Community engagement has been a key part of my education, and in my work as an educator, I continue the commitment to rooting my teaching in the local community, making sure it is relevant and creates an impact.
As an undergraduate, I participated in a year-long service learning program through my dorm, coursework, and service, and later undertook another project during my semester in India. Since then, I have completed training in community engaged teaching through the teaching and learning center at Indiana University South Bend and applied for and received official recognition of a course for community engaged status in line with the Campus Compact program. That course ended up not running as a fully community-engaged course, due to the planned partner organization not being prepared to handle the number of students in our course.
However, the course was still inspired by community engagement, which was expressed through inclusion of guest visits from representatives of local organizations and an opportunity for students to collaborate with members of those organizations for their final interview project. Many students opted to interview international students on campus to contribute to a partner project based in the Office of International Student Services; the interviews provided ethnographic material for analysis for students in my course and the basis for a blog featuring their peers contributions and experiences as international students. Several students also contacted local partner organizations to pursue internships for credit and volunteer opportunities.
At the end of the semester, we celebrated students’ hard work by participating in an on-campus “Party with a Purpose” to contribute to the work of one of the local organizations by assembling supplies for their constituents. I invited several student organizations and other campus units to co-sponsor the event, and through our partnership with the local non-profit, we brought neighbors, students, staff, and faculty together for a common cause.