The 2011 Service-Learning Initiative included 49 participants and 14 site leaders who visited 10 sites. This year, SLI saw the re-integration of a “how to get involved” session, where participants had the opportunity to engage with site leaders in which first-year’s concerns about their transition into college and future service involvement could be discussed.
“It was a great transition for freshman who had just moved into UNC. Not only were we able to spend a few extra days on campus exploring, but we also made connections that made this huge campus seem a bit smaller.”
An organization to which SLI has been returning for several years, Club Nova, serves as a haven for individuals living with mental illnesses in Orange County and works to integrate them with the community. Club Nova focuses on the potential and rather than the weaknesses of each individual, while each member makes a meaningful contribution to the organization. Though the specific activities of students’ service at Club Nova vary each year, some examples of possible activities include helping cook in the kitchen and working in the popular thrift shop. One of the most meaningful aspects of Club Nova for many participants is having conversations with the people there.
SLI reflection periods serve as opportunities for participants and leaders to look back on the service opportunities of the day, discuss the purpose of the SLI program and the importance of service-learning.
During the 2011 SLI, our groups partook in two reflection periods. In the first session, the site leaders and participants watched a short documentary “Harvest of Dignity” and then proceeded to discuss our thoughts on the film and our abilities as students at UNC to serve in various international and domestic causes. The next day, a second reflections period followed a group visit and work day at Central Elementary School in Orange County; during this period we discussed the importance of indirect and direct service as well as our overall thoughts on our experiences at the school.
“The reflection sessions made me think about social issues in ways that I hadn't thought about them before, and provided clarity as to what I want to do in the future with regards to service work.” - SLI 2011 Participant
SLI Alternative Fall Break
SLI has been continuing to integrate an Alternative Break opportunity for participants. This year, SLI was able to continue their second year of alternative breaks as a fall break. Ten first-year Service Learning Initiative participants and two student trip leaders travelled to Asheville, North Carolina to spend their break volunteering with various organizations. The group volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, MANNA Food Banks, an adult day care center and at an Alzheimer’s walk. Students participated in reflection sessions after each work site. The group was also able to explore the beautiful Blue Ridge parkway and downtown Asheville during their free time. This trip was a great opportunity for past SLI participants to reconnect and continue to share their passion for service in an alternative setting.