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Monday, April 6, 2009

Spanish Community Service Learning Anecdote 8


by Ann Abbott

They say that accomodations we make for people with disabilities actually improve the quality of all people's lives. I think the same thing can be said about community service learning--the service we do for others enriches our own lives and our own learning. After all, community service learning is predicated on creating a mutually beneficial relationship.

But the benefits can sometimes surprise us.

Most people, I think, would imagine that our students who work at a domestic violence shelter are helping others with that specific problem while they gain something more "abstract" in return.

Not necessarily. I have had more than one female student who has had her studies interrupted, her concentration on academics disrupted, and her confidence shaken by a violent episode with a boyfriend. And there are many more cases, I'm sure, of students suffering some form of domestic violence but who never say anything about it.

This student's appeal to a university service fraternity asks them to imagine what domestic violence would be like. I bet some of them don't have to imagine it; they've lived it.

Imagine if every time you stepped into your apartment, you feared for your life. You never knew if your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend would be there waiting to hurt you or even kill you. Although this is a frightening, unthinkable thought for many of you, to some members of the Champaign County domestic violence is a terrible reality. Your home is meant to be a safe haven, and A Woman’s Place in Urbana strives to create a secure and welcoming environment for displaced victims.

As a volunteer through the class Spanish and Entrepreneurship, and a fellow brother in this service fraternity, I would like to take the time address all active members regarding this organization that serves the needs of victims of domestic abuse. Despite the name A Woman’s Place, both men and women, and their children seek refuge in this home that provides counseling and other support until they are able to find a safe place to live free from abuse. A Woman’s Place is also part of a larger organization, A Woman’s Fund, which includes Rape Crisis Services to provide support for victims of sexual assault or abuse.

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