Breaking the Ice – Reflections on a True International Service Learning Project

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Day 1 – July 23rd workshop with the Belizean teens

The Belizean kids didn’t have time to finish the curriculum I had sent down ahead of time because their teacher got sick, so I am skipping the first day of our sightseeing to run a workshop so they can catch up.

Service Learning Worksop Sacred Heart School Belize

Loui and Dianeli working on their paper tower

I am thrilled to see that the leadership, communications and teamwork exercises are going really well. Then it’s time to talk about what they have observed in their community during their training over the past few weeks. What issues bug them?  What would they change if they could? The group has been pretty lively all morning, but suddenly they seem very quiet.  We discuss some issues, but it feels like I am dragging them along.

That night I lie awake.  I definitely worry too much.  The night before I lie awake worrying about how the first in-person workshop would go.  Now my mind repeats over and over…service learning has to be driven by the students…

would they have ANY ideas about how to improve their community?

What if they didn’t?  Is the culture so different that they just accept things the way they are?  Do they feel it’s not their place to question things? What would it be like spending four weeks doing service learning with 20 teenagers if they don’t come up with a compelling project to do?

Day 2 – July 24th              Time for the teens from the US and Belize to meet!

We have dinner together at a huge long table.  Before and during dinner I make them mix up and sit next to the people who would become their service learning teammates aka: currently intimidating strangers from a foreign land.  I know them all a little bit, so I am able to get them mingling and talking.

It works!

There is more conversation than we’ve had when it was just the American kids eating dinner together.  At least the social aspect is going well!  Toward the end of the evening, I sneak in a few comments about how important it is to think of some community issues that are important to them.  I find out that Loui has written notes from when they did a “World of Service” exercise in our curriculum designed to get them thinking about what different aspect of a healthy community look like, and how they might contribute.  I ask him to present what they came up with at during our first full work day tomorrow. I’m still nervous about what will happen…but that is the nature of a pilot project…isn’t it?

Next post…Phase II – Brainstorming – Reflections on a True International Service Learning Project

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Posted on: July 18, 2012 | Categories: AFAR, Archaeology, Belize, Education, History, recreation, Service Learning, Service Learning US & Belize teens


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