VII. Reflection

At the close of the quarter nearly every student in the class requested to be enrolled in future classes with a similar theme or project. Their response was overwhelming and reminding us about the power of connecting learning to the real world. Their writing, the quality of their product, and preparation for interviews had meaning beyond their own grades. They felt the impact of their work on the individuals they met.

A ‘thank you for listening’ from a veteran who had never told his story was profound. They felt the difference they had made. The tears in the eyes of another veteran that made them, intuitively, turn off the camera for a moment reminded students that they were trusted enough for a stranger to become vulnerable. The refugees who explained the importance of making newcomers feel welcome, and how valuable their financial and personal contribution was to the organization, revealed their power as passionate young people.

The impact of this project is still felt in the school as we receive new orders for the book and refer to it as a profound example of the power of service learning. We are in the process of publishing a second, more thoroughly edited version at the request of numerous individuals who still want a copy. We sold out at the end of last year.

In January of this year, a student from the class excitedly shared that she had sent a copy of the book to her brother in prison. He wrote her a letter telling her the book had changed his life and that other inmates wanted a copy.

At the demand of students, we did design a similar course this year with an exclusive focus on African immigrants and refugees called Bridging the Gap – Building Solidarity through Intercultural Dialogue. About half of the students who participated in the first project are also involved in this one. Their perspective and experience combined with ours as teachers has brought a new depth to the learning. We look forward to sharing the work of this class as well.

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