A Recap on our Experience with a Service Learning Course

It has been a whirl-wind of a semester working with a real-life client, Youth Oasis Children’s Shelter, and fellow public relations seniors. I have never felt as much of a taste for the real world, post-graduation as I have during the past four months. From trying to find a time to meet between seven busy students, to communicating with professionals during overwhelming work hours, finding our “flow” was a struggle.

I think our biggest struggle starting out was getting past the world of hypotheticals. Our whole college careers have been spent working on projects for hypothetical clients, hypothetical campaigns and hypothetical products. That is where we were comfortable and willing to stay. As the semester rolled on we quickly realized that was not going to cut it. We had a client signed up and willing to take what we offered them. There were real people involved and very real budgets on the line. It was time to execute.

The moment this “clicked” for me was when I realized that if no one came to our kick-off event all of our time, efforts and client’s money would be wasted. I could not shake how embarrassing that would be from my head. Luckily it clicked for the rest of my group as well and we put our work into high-gear to get the right people to the event.

After long nights, countless emails, and a couple of drives to New Orleans to pick up donations, our event ended up being a huge success. We raised approximately $1,600 for Youth Oasis and made about 50 people aware of the services it offers. Below is a video recapping our event, Housing the Arts at Tin Roof Brewery:

Of course seeing the clients reaction after realizing how much money was raised and how many people came out to support them makes it all worth it. I wouldn’t take back the moment Youth Oasis’ director awkwardly hugged Marie-Therese in excitement as she looked terribly uncomfortable. Even the long drawn-out group meeting that seemed endless and unproductive will be some what missed. I do wish we had done things differently from the beginning, though.

I don’t know if we could be anymore prepared for this service learning class then we were in August, but I would urge professors in lower-level classes of Manship to stress how important this course is. It’s not only important to the students in it, but also to the Baton Rouge community. If taken seriously, this course could serve very deserving clients well, setting them up for success long after the students have graduated.