Student Voices is a WOA blog feature that presents the experiences and viewpoints of current Arts students. Through their posts, you’ll experience the creativity and passion of our students as they present a glimpse into student life. The views and opinions expressed within these posts are solely those of the authors.
I took Philosophy 101 as part of the University of Alberta’s Breadth and Diversity requirements. It was my first semester of my first year and I took this night class because my friend was already enrolled. A few weeks before the semester started, we both received emails from the professor who said that the course had a mandatory CSL component with 20 hours of volunteer work.
I didn’t think much of it. I had done some volunteering in high school and enjoyed it. This CSL component didn’t seem like a big deal.
Being a philosophy class, the community placement was a very interesting one. Each week, we would read a children’s book in class and discuss possible themes like love, truth and justice. Then, we would prepare for our placement: reading the books to elementary students and trying to engage them in philosophy.
That CSL placement taught me a lot about working in a community setting. I remember having a really strong negative reaction to the children’s book The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, wondering how I could possibly teach it to children when I didn’t like the text. That experience taught me how to separate my feelings from the task at hand, but also to be open-minded to different opinions about things. The kindergarteners saw the book in a radically different way than me. They had some great ideas and they engaged in conversation easily.
Moreover, this placement gave me my first taste in working in a community setting outside of my academic institution. It really inspired me to get involved on and off campus and to engage with people different from me. Now I volunteer with the U of A Campus Food Bank and the Edmonton Public Schools Study Buddy program, and I am president of a non-profit.
“That experience taught me how to separate my feelings from the task at hand, but also to be open-minded to different opinions about things.”
The Community Service-Learning program offers a certificate program in which I am registered. The great thing about the CSL Certificate is that the requirements really push you outside of your degree program and to engage with the community. I have learnt just as much from the course work as I have from my placements.
Now I am working as an intern at CSL, and I look back at all of my placements and what CSL has done for me. I wonder what would have happened had I initially dropped that class. Where would I be right now? Probably not an intern in the program, probably not a certificate candidate either. I wouldn’t be so engaged within my community, that’s for sure. I am so excited to see what the rest of the year will bring.
I hope to take you, dear reader, on this learning journey through these blog posts.
Until next time!