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The power of service-​​learning

Some 450 North eastern stu dents par tic i pated in more than two dozen service-​​learning courses in the spring semester, teaming up with campus and community-​​based part ners to com plete 16,890 hours of service.

These part ner ships were show cased at the second annual Service-​​Learning EXPO: EXPOse Your Mind to Service-​​Learning. The event, which took place last week in the Fenway Center, allowed stu dents to edu cate and explain their projects to the North eastern community.

“The EXPO serves as a forum for show casing the good work done by our stu dents throughout the semester,” said Becca Berkey, asso ciate director and service-​​learning coor di nator in the Center of Com mu nity Ser vice. “We also encourage com mu nity mem bers to use the EXPO as an oppor tu nity to net work, catch up, and brain storm about future pos si bil i ties for collaboration.”

Mary Elliott, a first-​​year stu dent with a dual major in lin guis tics and cul tural anthro pology, tutored chil dren at El Centro del Car denal, a Dorchester-​​based pro gram that helps out-​​of-​​school and high-​​risk youth earn their GED cer tifi cate. Elliott and four other North eastern stu dents vis ited El Centro del Car denal on a weekly basis, assisting Spanish-​​speaking stu dents who needed extra help. This oppor tu nity orig i nated in “Advanced Spanish 2,” a course that shows stu dents how to master grammar and con ver sa tion through engage ment with the local community.

“I wanted the oppor tu nity to speak and prac tice my con ver sa tional Spanish out side of the class room,” said Elliott. “I’d been a tutor in the past, so this expe ri ence really appealed to me on a number of levels.”

Service-​​learning courses also allow stu dents to interact with the com mu nity on sub jects out side of the class room, including tech niques in bystander inter ven tion. This past semester, the human ser vices depart ment offered a spe cial topics course called “Men tors in Vio lence Pre ven tion: A Bystander Approach to Ending Gender-​​Based Vio lence.” The course sent stu dents such as senior human ser vice major Eileen Rice into the com mu nity to edu cate and empower bystanders to take affir ma tive action when they see vio lence in a public arena.

Rice’s service-​​learning place ment brought her to Mujeres Unidas Avan zando in Dorch ester, an orga ni za tion pro vides free social ser vices and edu ca tional pro grams to low-​​income Latina women. At MUA, Rice met weekly with a group of 20– to 35-​​year-​​old women to dis cuss cul tural stereo types and teach them how to be active bystanders in the face of gender-​​based abuse and violence.

“It’s really impor tant that everyone knows they don’t have to be pas sive bystanders,” said Rice. “That’s why I decided to take the class, and why I think people from all cul tural back grounds need to become aware of the options avail able to them.”

– by Jordana Torres

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