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The Best Lessons Are Not in the Classroom

Service learning can be defined as teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities. This definition was taken from Learn and Serve America National Service Learning Clearinghouse. I interpret this definition to participating in service and reflecting in a matter that teaches character and evokes thought and discussion. Not everything that we as students are taught can be evaluated through a test, nor can be found in a textbook. It is through service learning that individuals are exposed to real-life situations and are usually granted the opportunity to assist in the resolution of such.

Broad Magnolias has been assigned to working with the non-profit organization Youth Oasis, a local Baton Rouge children’s center for runaway, homeless and emergency youth across the state. Youth Oasis currently is one of two centers housing children in the state.We chose to work with Youth Oasis because this organization serves a great cause and deserves more attention in such a thriving society. In Louisiana there are approximately 5,200 people living without homes (Homeless Research Institue, 2013).

LSU maintains the objective of a commitment to our community and that statement holds more weight than just to LSU students and faculty. Broad Magnolias seeks “to contribute positively to the life of the campus and surrounding community,” just as one of LSU’s pillars better describes. I firmly believe that it is because of service learning that we are able to achieve the objective presented by our university.

LSU offers service learning as an external opportunity to participate in free of charge with Campus Life through activities such as Leadership Exchange; where students spend the semester studying and discussing HIV/AIDS or another decided topic. Mid-semester the Leadership Exchange group then meets with Loyola University or any other interested universities in the area to discuss the topic or theme at hand as well as participate in smaller service learning opportunities. The group finally presents their work collectively at the end of the semester to their peers. I participated in Leadership Exchange with LSU last semester and learned more than I could imagine on HIV/AIDS as well as supporting the cause locally in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, however not every student has time to add an extra-curricular to their schedule. Being granted the opportunity to work with a non-profit through a service-learning course within one’s major is a formidable experience.

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