Erin Hardin, 128 TCCS
Thailand has been amping up its Volunteerism game and Peace Corps has been collaborating with this initiative to go beyond volunteering and community service projects. I am talking about service learning. What exactly is service learning and how is it different from volunteering? Service learning is volunteering with an added focus on a more developed curriculum. A way to put those life skills to good use and to gain knowledge on a particular subject that directly involves one’s community.
For example, a Thanksgiving food drive, which is a traditional Volunteer project in schools. Service learning goes beyond just collecting canned goods and boxes of macaroni and cheese, and mashed potatoes. Students research proper nutrition and then perhaps hold a feast of their own utilizing what they found in their research. As they are providing for the community they are educating themselves and others in proper nutrition and why it is important. They could even take it a step further and create a recipe book based on information collected and give them out with the items. There are numerous ways to level up from volunteering to service learning.
Service learning creates more sustainable actions and is a great way to put those life skills into action. Picking up trash is one of those arduous tasks that no one really looks forward to during volunteering projects. Have a competition, create opportunities for teamwork and leadership, then bring it back to how that relates to keeping the community clean. Again, you can take it further and have the youth create ways to prevent trash from building up in the future.
Please remember, that there is no need to reinvent the wheel! Start with what your community is already involved with.
A lot of Thai communities plant trees on Mothers’ day. You can easily turn that into a lesson and project on the environment.
Don’t forget to ask your students; youth have many creative ideas that just a little nudge to make them a reality. Service learning is best with partnerships and collaborations, creating the opportunity for sustainability.
The possibilities are endless!
To find more information:
Check out the Peace Corps Volunteerism Action Guide and/or The Complete Guide to Service Learning By Cathryn Berger Kaye, M.A., both can be found in the PCV lounge.
The V² Committee is also available to answer questions or help with ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out the V² Facebook page: V² Multiply the Power of Service.