Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What is "Real" Community Service Learning Work?

by Ann Abbott

I think that the following e-mail thread will be of interest to students, instructors and community partners. It illustrates how we may have unaligned expectations about what constitutes "real" Spanish community service learning (CSL) work.

Human services workers know that paperwork and basic office tasks are routine but necessary parts of the job. Students, however, may not know or value that work. What do they expect to do in a human services office? What do they want to do? What does learning "look like" to them? These are all important yet difficult questions for CSL instructors who must design mutually beneficial partnerships.

E-mail exchange #1: Student to TA

                       He visto tus comentarios sobre [community partner] y mi frustracion sobre no mucho trabajo y que estoy haciendo tarea muchas veces.  Estoy de acuerdo que no es el punto de la clase, y quiero hablar contigo sobre otras opciones de hacer trabajo, quizas con ESL o algo similar. No se que exactamente hay que hacer. Y para responder sobre sus comentarios de quizas estoy detras en mis horas, voy a hacer las horas en los fines de semanas que vienen en un programa que [community partner] ofrece para los ninos. Gracias

E-mail exchange #2: TA to Student with cc to Course Supervisor (me)

Hola [Student]:

                Gracias por escribirme sobre tu community parnter. También le mando a la Profesora Abbott este mensaje.
                Me parece bien que vayas los sábados para hacer las horas. Sin embargo, como tu dices, tal vez no termines todas las horas porque durante la semana no hay mucho trabajo que hacer en [community partner].
                Creo que podrías ver otras oportunidades en el blog y también podrías ver si puedes hacer terminar las horas adicionales con otro community partner.
                Vamos a ver que sugiere la Profesora Abbott.
                Gracias por avisarnos.

E-mail exchange #3: Course Supervisor (me) to Student with cc to TA

                I just want to make sure what "no much trabajo" means. Some students do not value answering the phone and greeting clients as work, and it is. Just want to check that first.
                In addition to [TA's] suggestions, please make sure that you have talked with [community partner employees] about what you can do at [community partner] when there are slow times. I for one would love it if you could come up with information to post on their Facebook page. (If you can't post directly, send items to me.) See if you can come up with a short video for their website. Be creative!

E-mail exchange #4: Student to Course Supervisor (me)

Professor Abbott,
The more I think about it I guess I really do quite a bit of work. I am constantly answering phones and the door, which I realize alleviates a lot of the work from the other workers when they are with clients. I also do interact with a lot of the clients and do translations and such. Tomorrow when I go in I will talk with [community partner employee] about the facebook page and see what I can do. As I told [TA], I also plan on helping out more with their Saturday kids program which I imagine will be much more interactive. Thanks for getting back with me.

E-mail exchange #5: Course Supervisor (me) to Student
               I can't tell you how happy I am to read your message. Not only does your work alleviate the other workers, it is very important to the clients themselves to see a friendly face and be able to speak in Spanish to the person who responds to the door and telephone. Thank you for your work at [community partner]!
                [Community partner employee] probably won't have much ideas about Facebook, but you and I can talk about that if shedoesn't have other projects for you.
                May I post your messages on my blog? I would delete your name and [community partner's] name as well, of course. I just think it would be helpful for my readers to see what students think. I hope so, but if you say no, that's fine, too!

E-mail exchange #6: Student to Me
By all means, you are welcome to. 

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