Service-Learning: An Economics Major Reflects

June 13, 2018
Ryan Mitchell
Ryan Mitchell

Service-learning is when a person, or group of people, take the knowledge and educational goals that they have been learning about in class and apply it to some sort of community service or community engagement. For Book Buddies, my buddy Yazlin and I paired up together for some reading, and after worked on creating a book of our own. This applies as service-learning because, as we learned about in our Youth Development class, I was part of Yazlin's social zone of proximal development, which allowed her to engage more in her reading, writing, and creative skills. For Discovery Day, I was partnered up with Angel from Roseland University Prep (RUP), and we teamed up with members from my group as well as some of his classmates and engaged in a campus-wide scavenger hunt. Applying what I already knew from class about the Early Adolescence life stage, I was able to better understand how to communicate with him and his classmates while they subconsciously search for their own social identity as part of a group.

Related: Book Buddies V

For the first week, during Book Buddies with Yazlin, I was incredibly surprised at how well developed her skill learning abilities, reading and writing, were. Personally, I don't think she knew how well she did herself, as she seemed kind of embarrassed to share with her other classmates the story that she created. I was definitely witnessing her going through the psychosocial crisis of her life stage throughout the entire day. The same goes for my buddy Angel on Discovery Day. Angel stood out as one of the more serious of the group, coming up and introducing himself to me right away. Also, while we were walking around campus he was asking questions as to possible careers for my major, as well as asking other people in my group. But whenever he got surrounded by his friends, you could see his unintentional instinct to try and fit in with his clique, because he was trying to develop his own social identity.

Related: Discovery Day XV

For me personally, I was waiting for these service-learning days all semester because I find the class very interesting and applicable to everyday life, as well as hearing how excited Professor Hobson was while she explained these community engagements. My favorite of the two days was Book Buddies. I have always loved working with younger kids because I feel like they not only have so much to learn themselves, but also they help me learn more about myself through our engagements with each other. I am an economics major and originally planned on taking this course strictly for the GE because I felt like this class didn't apply with what I considered my career path to be. However I was incredibly incorrect at how much I can help, not only as a student, but also as an economist. This really started connecting with me when we watched the piece on Perry Preschool, and how these economists and statisticians were putting the success of these students from Perry into numbers. I now feel morally obligated to give back as much as I can when it comes to my career choice, and these two service-learning experiences have also swayed me more towards becoming a teacher; something I have always wanted to do, but felt reluctant to based on the current state of teaching and lower levels of education in the country.

Related: Service-Learning Case Study: Psychology and Early Childhood Education

As a side note, I would like to thank Doctor Hobson, as well as anyone who helped make these days a possibility. I knew I was going to have a good time with the service-learning but I never knew how much it would affect and influence me personally coming into these experiences. This experience really changed my whole perspective on this class and material as well as my college experience as a whole.