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Sunday, December 9, 2007

Communicating with Community Partners


Classes are over for the semester, and finals begin tomorrow. Students have wrapped up their community service learning work for SPAN 232 "Spanish in the Community." Now the administrative duties kick in: tie up loose ends about this semester and plan for the next.

One of my community partners is Obdulio Fonseca (see photo), leader of the Boy Scouts from Shadowwood. Last weekend, he and the CBL students worked on renovating and beautifying the trailer where the Boy Scouts meet. I visited them (no, I didn't do any painting) and talked to Obdulio and the students personally. I know that the students all did a good job.
But for other community partners, I need call, send e-mail and meet with them. One community partner and I are meeting for coffee next week. And since I am on the Board of the Refugee Center, I always check in at our monthly meetings.
But I have eight community partners (and the list is growing to accomodate all the students for next semester), so I am clearing my calendar for two days next week just to communicate with them. Darcy Lear and I are co-writing an article in which we state (among other things) that community service learning instructors/directors should simply accept their role as intermediary. It's true that all of us who do this are also instructors, committee members, thesis advisors, final-exam graders, and a dozen other labels that we could give ourselves during this busy period. But if you simply accept that your role as instructor/director of Spanish CBL also includes time spent with community partners you will plan for it, not be taken by surprise by it.
It's time well spent.

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