Thursday, November 6, 2008

Required Reflection is Key to Students' Success As They Work in the Community

Moving on to the second question, I asked:

University of Illinois students have worked in your organizations. We are interested in educating our students for success in the classroom as well as in their future professions. Therefore, what strengths have they brought to their work in your organization? What skills were lacking? In other words, what were the strengths and weaknesses of the U of I students.)

Omar Duque said that they have been very pleased with the student interns that they have received through the Spanish & Illinois Summer Internship program for the past three years. (Kelley Sheehan, a former S&I intern with the Chamber also attended the summit.) They are shy when they first arrive on the job, however.

Alejandro Molina concurred with Omar, and added that they receive many students at the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, from several universities. Most are not Latinos, so he gives them a historical and cultural introduction. What seemed clear to me was that Alejandro was saying that it is a lot of work to give those students meaningful experiences that match their academic and personal goals.

Barbara Linder turned the question around. She said that the real question is "What are the strengths and weaknesses of how faculty design these 'assignments' for students." She clearly and convincingly stated that when guided reflection is an integral part of students' experience in the community, those students are the most effective and productive youth mentors/tutors.

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