By Kristine Cody
This May marks the end of my graduate assistantship in the Service-Learning office. It is a bittersweet season as I look back with gratitude on the experiences I have had and prepare to move forward into new positions. Service-Learning has come to take on a new meaning for me – it signifies citizenship and stewardship of resources for the overall benefit of a community. It shifts the aim of education from betterment of self to the betterment of society in a reciprocal, results-based manner. More than that though, Service-Learning means intentional application of learning that produces transformation of mind, heart, and spirit for students and community members alike.
Our theme in the office this year has been “Journeying Together” which indicates partnership, collaboration, and collective vision, not only in the work we do, but in the personal experiences that we share. The CASLR family is saying “see you later” to many valuable employees and friends, including five graduating seniors and five graduate interns. In facing this reality we have reflected together on the past year, the relationships built, and the work completed – there is much gratitude for the landmarks we have experienced together. These pivotal moments include the following accomplishments:
- Establishing a collaborative mission statement for the College Headed and Mighty Proud program.
- The office’s Assistant Director, Cindy Montgomery, completed her first full year in the position.
- Staff presented at the 2013 Continuums of Service Conference in Portland, Oregon.
- The expansion of the 8th Grade Majors Fair to include all three middle schools in the Azusa Unified School District.
- The Community Scholars transitioned to an independently functioning group.
I leave this year with intellectual gains from researching and participating in Service-Learning and the social emotional gains from working in an office that fosters workplace community and professional development. This experience has demonstrated the concept of bringing together many voices to have maximum impact on community need and resilience. It has shed light on how positive team synergy can optimize motivation and impact, and integrate inherent value of all parties involved.
“No group can solve its problems without the expertise and perspective of others. Artists need business-minded people to complement their creativity with economic savvy. Developers benefit from artists who create neighborhoods that have character and aesthetically unique identities. Planners profit from mothers’ input in designing neighborhoods that nurture children. To solve the problems of today’s multifaceted communities, we must bring together everyone’s ideas to construct a collective vision of the future.” – Milenko Matanovic, Executive Director of the Pomegranate Center
Service-Learning is the pipeline for civically engaged and socially responsible individuals who prioritize making a difference in the world. This is what it means to journey together – to bring together diverse voices, to give and receive, and to care for the well-being of our communities.
Kristine is a graduate assistant serving at the Center for Academic Service-Learning & Research serving as the 2012-2013 Coordinator for Student Professional Development. She is working towards her Master’s of Science in College Counseling and Student Development.