Ready Set Go! A New Year in Service-Learning

By Fatima Elali

Hello fellow readers and welcome to my first official blog post of the exciting 2013-2014 school year. I look forward to my experiences working as the Coordinator for Student Professional Development working in the Center for Academic Service Learning and Research.  As I look out the window near my desk, I take notice of the beautiful day.  I see the “A” up on the mountaintop and think to myself how much I have grown professionally, spiritually, and personally at APU even in this short amount of time. It seems as if this summer and especially my training began yesterday.
My experiences thus far have enabled me to build a bridge so that I can walk alongside college students, in efforts to make a positive impact in their lives. I enjoy building a bridge by seeking connectedness and rapport with each of the Service-Learning Advocates, and I appreciate the opportunity to experience their growth. Progress is accomplished through overcoming challenges and I get the chance to witness them firsthand as I walk alongside them when they are in the office. 
Going to APU, a faith based four year university, has helped remind me to exercise my existing faith. Every staff meeting, the staff and I have the opportunity to ask for prayer requests and give praise reports along with praying about them. Every meeting I have with my supervisor and two Service Learning Advocates includes a prayer too. The exemplification of being a Christian makes me feel comfortable to express my faith.   Furthermore, the sincerity and warmth the campus brings is worthy of noting, as it too assists in the strengthening of my faith.
Personally, I have learned more about myself. I’ve learned to focus on my strengths and less on my weaknesses. I have valued the benefits of being a goal setter, and I have faith that I will build the necessary skills and create greater results from my efforts. Training was a welcomed experience, but one where there was lots of information given in a short amount of time. After training, I felt uneasy about my capacity, as I felt that I had to know and remember everything there was about my role.  I was not aware that I was already making connections with what I was being taught and applying it through my daily responsibilities.  I now see that learning is always present and that each experience is a benefit to being a better graduate intern and eventually a better professional.  
Lastly, little by little I am gaining more confidence in my capacities. The CASLR staff shows their genuine care through asking questions, asking for prayer requests, and letting me know that they are available to assist me with anything I may need. This has helped create an environment where it is safe to make mistakes if they happen.  With this supportive environment I have increased my knowledge of service-learning. It is a concept that values academics, reciprocity, and facilitates students to make a difference in the world. With this in mind, I seek to be a continuous learner and gain the confidence I need to accomplish great things by learning both in the classroom and in the workplace.   
Fatima is a graduate assistant serving at the Center for Academic Service-Learning & Research serving as the 2013-2014 Coordinator for Student Professional Development. She is working towards her Master’s of Science in College Counseling and Student Development.