Douglas Adams (1950–2001), an English writer, humorist and dramatist said, “To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.” Service-learning must have these attributes. The National and Community Service Act of 1990 showed that what people learned in and beyond the classroom must foster the development for caring for others. The characteristics to be noticed are:
- Persons will learn and develop through active participation by organized service-experiences that meet community needs.
- Service projects will integrate participants’ academic curricula by providing structured time for thinking, talking, and writing concerning what they are doing, and seeing during these activities.
- Activists will have opportunities to use their newly acquired skills and knowledge in real life situations in their communities.
- There will be enhancement of what was taught in classroom-situations through learning beyond the classroom, and the community in helping to foster the development of a sense of caring for others.
Life as Experiences
Henry Ford (1863–1947), an industrialist and the founder of Ford Motor Company wrote, “Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure, help us in our marching onward.” It’s through joining forces with our communities, and by building viable structures people will help them achieve new realities. Andrew Furco in Service-Learning: A Balance Approach to Experiential Education stated such learning wasn’t the following:
- Volunteerism – where the primary interest was on the service being provided, and the intended beneficiary were clearly the recipients.
- Community service – where the primary focus was on the service being provided as well as the benefits that such activities brought to the recipients. Participants receive benefits by learning more about how their services make a difference.
- Internships that generally engaged individuals in activities, primarily for the purpose of providing hands-on experiences, while enhancing their learning, or understanding of issues to particular areas of studies.
- Field Education that provided co-curricular service opportunities that will be related, but not fully integrated with their formal goals. People generally performed such services as part of a program designed to enhance their understanding of field studies.
George Washington (1732–1799), the first president of the United States said, “Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” Similar minded people bent on service to their communities will lead to greater understanding in our communities. But there might be problems threatening to impede such progress.
Quite important is adequate funding by Federal, State and private corporations for community projects. Another issue coming to the forefront is documenting the progress made during these undertakings. Nowadays there are miniature digital cameras capable of producing high quality pictures and programs of such projects. Then there has to be the delivery systems available for participants to bring their work to the attention of the public. This could be done through participating TV and cable channels, the Internet, local press and publications of different organizations. It’s imperative that all parties – secular and non-secular alike, become linkages in symbiotic ways. If the strong bonds for communal advancement don’t presently exist, over time these will develop. With such progress entities of service-learning will lead to greater social, cultural, spiritual and communal growth.