Four First Year Seminar Classes Learn Through Service

2015-service-learningFour First Year Seminar Humanities classes are embarking on a hands-on service-learning experiences, based on the issue of homelessness.

These classes are dealing with a “pressing social issue”, according to Dr. Louise Prochaska, who is the Professor of Theology and Women’s Studies. Students in theses classes had the opportunity to see this social issue first hand.

Louise Prochaska, Ph.D.; Sally Carey, Ph.D.; and Sr. Karita Ivancic, SND, Ph.D. are among two additional professors who are teaching the Humanities section of the First Year Seminar course and are involved in the Service Learning Project.

These classes are not grouped together;however, they are individual classes. The students can get together from other Humanities classes or they can do the project on their own.

Students in their classes are required to have three hours of service experience this semester at one of eight different organizations helping the homeless. While the eight different organizations are required and are also suggestions, the students can do their service learning project at an organization near their home town, and still fulfill their assignment requirements.

Their assignment includes choosing an agency, fulfilling the time and location to work with the homeless, interacting with the organizations, collecting comments from the staff after the assignment is completed and writing an academic inquiry paper. In their paper, students are required to have provide the assigned components that demonstrate their knowledge of homelessness in their hometown or the greater Cleveland area, provide discussions about Liz Murray’s, Breaking Night, which is their required text, and develop thoughts of their experiences based on the service learning project.   

Breaking Night, published in 2004 is about, Liz Murray, who was a young 15-year-old woman who became homeless after her family separated. When her mom passed away of AIDS, Liz decided to go to high school, which was a short two years, while still homeless and worked her way up to become a student at Harvard University. The Notre Dame students are to relate to and apply the course material and information from the book as they engage in the experiences.

Students have options to serve meals to, spend time talking with and even create activities for homeless in Northeast Ohio, among other volunteer options.

The students in each class were to be independent and share their full responsibility for the project itself.

“After I do a project, I feel as if I made an impact on the people I help or the world because I look out for and care for those who are less fortunate,” said Danny Connell, a freshman in the First Year Seminar working with the homeless.

Connell also said this is his first service project at Notre Dame but he has had similar experiences in high school, such as volunteering his time at the Cleveland Food Bank and even a Humane Society Thrift Shop, located in Lebanon, Pa.

When asked to Dr. Carey, what she expects her students to learn from this experience, she said, “I’m always amazed at the disparity between my expectations for what students learn and what they actually take away from the hands-on experiences,” who is the Assistant Professor of Theology. Being that this is Dr. Carey’s first experience with students doing service learning, she is eager to hear what they have learned.

This project is directly  relating to the NDC Mission statement that “Notre Dame College, a Catholic institution in the tradition of the Sisters of Notre Dame, educates a diverse population in the liberal arts for personal, professional and global responsibility.

While the students experience the homelessness of individuals in Cleveland, Painesville, and the student’s hometowns, personal, professional and global responsibility are ways the Four First Year Seminar professors want their students to be successful and learn through the hands-on service-learning project.

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