Students impact community through service learning programs

As a part of the graduation requirements, it is necessary forall students to earn 120 hours of community service. In an attemptto fulfill these requirements, students have already begun to takesteps on a different path to earning hours – service learningthrough Habitat for Humanity.

Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit organization that has beenbuilding homes, through volunteer help, for low-income families.Oct. 2 marked the first day for Dillard students to take part inbuilding a home.

Stephanie Woods, a junior English major, said that she enjoyedher work for habitat. “It was a new experience,” Woods said.

As a requirement in the course, “Perspectives in Philosophy ,”taught by Dr. Alain P. Durocher, chair of the philosophydepartment, students are urged to participate in a service learningactivity and then to turn in a paper exploring their experiences.Woods said that although she cannot make the correlation betweenservice learning and philosophy, she is sure that she will get abetter understanding as she continues through the course.

Xavier University’s Asian association also joined in on thecommunity effort in building homes under Habitat for Humanity. Alarge number of volunteers from Dillard, including Gamma SigmaSigma National Service Sorority, were out to help and give back tothe community.

Volunteers worked on installing windows, doors and repairingroofs. Some students were even faced with challenges while helpingto complete the home.

“I thought I was going to fall off the edge of the house,” saidLeslie Goode, a senior.
In the past, on-campus organizations have offered students theopportunity to gain service hours through walk-a- thons, andspecial need book drives, but some professors feel that servicelearning is much more effective.

Durocher said that the service learning tool has been in placefor a while, and that faculty will “implement” it even more nextsemester. Durocher said that service learning would allow studentsto “explore with hands on experience.”

Goode, who is also a mass communications major, said that forher, the activity was “kind of a soul affirmation exercise becauseit makes you appreciate what you have.”

Service learning is included in his syllabus because Durochersaid that students would be “more likely to realize how importantwhat they learn is,” and that the assumption is made that “astudent can learn” quicker with service learning projects if they”can experience what they learn in class.”
Students who participate with Habitat for Humanity feel the sameway.

Cristal Withrow, a senior mass communications major, said thatdoing the service learning activity was “a great experience”knowing that she helped someone. Withrow said that although thefamilies getting the homes may not know who was involved inbuilding the house, “they will still appreciate it.”

“It gave me no choice but to thank the source of my blessings,”Goode said.
The purpose of service learning is to allow students to experiencethe type of results that are to be gained from doing communityservice – the feeling of directly impacting a community.

Shantelle Steib, Colloquy coordinator for Vision Quest,coordinated the event. The Habitat for Humanity site was held onUrquhart and Port Street in New Orleans and was scheduled from 8a.m. until 4 p.m.