Thursday, September 9, 2010

Service Learning= Love

If someone would have told me that by my Junior year of college I would practically be teaching my own courses, you would have certainly found one shocked College Girl.

Our entire university has an overwhelming sense of service, whether it is through Alternative Spring Break trips, volunteering within the community, or joining organizations on campus with extensive and involved philanthropies. This drive for service even carries over into the different programs of study that can be found on our campus.

My particular focus, Communication, offers several different options to develop a groundwork of skills and theories, then put them into use with community programs run entirely by groups of our students.

My first Service Learning class took place last year in the fall. We began the semester learning about theories and practices of Organizational Communication through group presentations and lecture. Mid-fall, we were each presented with a client, or a local organization (typically non-profit) and were told to communicate with them to find out their needs and how we could meet them through planning an event or a series of events. My group was partnered with a non-profit office near campus whose main focus was children's literacy. The "Gus Bus" traveled around like a library on wheels and often provided educational events to enhance the kid's learning experiences. We helped to plan a family fun night in an underprivledged community involving food and drinks, an outdoor movie, crafts and activities and of course lots of reading! Though our learning partner was at times VERY difficult to work with and very demanding, it was an amazing learning experience to compromise with a tough client, work within the bounds of a zero dollar budget, and still create a special event.

The second service learning experience I had here took place in the spring semester of last year. This class was titled Communication Training and basically equipped us with the skill set to create training plans, facilitate ice breakers and assess the effectiveness of training. Throughout the semester, we had maybe one or two days of true lecture. The class was divided up into groups of two training partners, and each were presented with a topic that would be typically presented in lecture. In order to practice for our foray into training outside groups, we each taught a section to the class in an interesting, meaningful way complete with snacks, ice breakers and activities. The second part of the class involved each student creating or choosing an icebreaker activity and presenting it to the class. Everybody loved a little bit of getting up, being creative and moving around each class and it truly brought the class together by the end of the semester. The last component in the course was that each training team had to secure a client with a training need. From there, we were to use the skills we had gathered and create an extensive training plan, execute the plan and then review with our class the high points as well as reflect on our struggles and things we learned.

Overall, these two courses have taught me more than any other class that I have been enrolled in. It is an amazing feeling to be trusted so surely and a true test of knowledge to employ it outside the classroom. I can't wait to take my next service learning course in the spring!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Back to School!

So far, there has been a lot of action in the College Girl's life! The summer ended well with some time spent with my family both at home and at the beach. It was hard to spend such a short amount of time with them after being gone all summer, but I wouldn't have traded my fabulous internship for the world!

I arrived back at school a little over a week ago, and it feels just like I've never left! I immediately got back into the swing of things and began to make all new SENIOR YEAR (!!!) memories with my best friends.

As far as classes go this semester, I am really excited for a challenging and interesting schedule. The class I am the most worried about is my science lab class, the Physics of Light and Sound. Now, I have not taken any kind of Science since about the 10th grade, and my college Math skills have not been fine tuned since my days of Math 103 Freshman year. I have a great friend in the class and lots of beautiful, left brained cohorts to help me through this journey, so I trust that I will make it out alive!

The class that I am most excited about is my Public Relations Management course. We will study different theories and environments for Public Relations as well as review case studies throughout the semester to learn the ins and outs of running a successful campaign. This class is designed to prepare us to enroll next semester in our PR capstone class in which we are presented with a real client in the community and we are charged with designing and implementing a campaign for their organization. One of the things I love most about my program of study here is the opportunities we are given for service learning. We really get to put our knowledge to the test and kick it up a notch working outside of the classroom.

My other courses consist of a Religion course, which should be very interesting, along with a course in Business and Professional Communication. I am especially excited for the additional Communication course because it will help fine tune my resume and interview skills and prepare me for the real world and future employment (hopefully!)

The second week of classes begins today, so I am excited to see where the semester takes me and to finally get rolling on my senior year! Have a great day!