The Joys of Service Learning

Something I really like about Belmont is our “requirement” to take Service Learning courses. However, I’ve easily gone above and beyond the requirement because every time I take a service learning course I not only end up with something good to put on my resume, but I feel like I get far more out of it than most of my other classes.
For example, last year, I served as an English Writing Fellow in a course called “Peer Tutoring.” I sat with a class of about 20 freshman for a semester in their Freshman Seminar and had the opportunity to tutor them all with their final papers. In my class, we spent time discussing and reading theories about teaching/tutoring. We explored every idea from ‘how much help is too much help’ to ‘how might my comments help or hurt this writer’s future writing?’ Things like this were very helpful and when I got to actually read through all of their papers and hold conferences with each of them, I learned something new and gained perspective and insight to teaching with each student.
This semester, I’ve taken two Service Learning courses. The first one just wrapped up as an 8-week course all about Grant Writing. For those of you who don’t know, nonprofit organizations get their funding from funders (the government, foundations, corporations, etc.) by writing grants. I just finished a $70,000 proposal grant for the HCA Foundation to fund a children’s mental health organization in town–and it was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. HOWEVER, I loved it. I got to interview my organization and learn how their nonprofit works and what they do to benefit society and children. Then I sat down, looked up the funder’s guidelines, and wrote the grant. It took me a really long time and ended up being 9 (single spaced) pages, but I was really happy with it and felt like I really accomplished something I never would have had the opportunity to do without this class.
Right now I’m taking a class called “Writing in the Community.” Basically, this is a story telling class. I’m interviewing a student from Glenncliff High School and together we’re going to write her story in a memoir. We’ve spent the semester so far learning about writing memoirs, reading them, and discussing ways to get a good story by asking the right questions. My teacher has encouraged us saying, “Everyone has a story worth telling.” The student I’m working with is a refugee and I’m very excited to work with her and write her story.