CBL Showcase: Our students in our communities
By Kelsey Hoff
The students stood proudly next to their tri-fold poster boards Wednesday afternoon, talking to visitors about their Community Based Learning (CBL) 101 projects. Each student was required to log at least 15 service hours at a community organization and create a PhotoVoice presentation to share the story of their experience. The students recorded their reflections before, during, and after the projects and many of them continued their service after the course expectation of 15 hours was completed.
Gwendolyn Byrd started with the goals of "being able to communicate efficiently with others, critically thinking of solutions for various social problems, and viewing issues from a broader perspective." She spent her 15 hours at Growing Power, which encourages safe, affordable, and sustainable food sources in urban settings. Byrd and Stacy Skrobis both got to help out and learn about greenhouses, livestock, and aquaponics.
These projects are win-win for the organizations and the students. Kathryn Evans said, "What I didn't consider is how brave I can be when approaching volunteering. I really do go out of my comfort zone often and appreciate the work that I do."
She worked with HALO, the Homeless Assistance Leadership Organization.
After her service was done, Candace Jiles, who worked at The House of Peace, realized, "Now I am open to everyone. I love to talk and interact with all types of people."
One component of the CBL Showcase was the students' presentation called "Ten Words for the Wizard." Created by an instructor at Harvard University, the CBL students were asked to observe a community space for an hour and write down ten words to describe it. From this, they synthesized meaning and gained a better knowledge of their community.
CBL 101 is the introductory course for the Community Based Learning Certificate, and it counts for three credits towards the ten-credit total. The program has been in effect since 2005, but has recently gained university awareness as more faculty have offered CBL in their classes and the university has emphasized civic engagement as one of its hallmarks in "The Parkside Promise." In addition to the CBL Certificate, the Honors Program offers a Civic Honors component, which allows students to focus on projects for which they have a deep commitment on a specific community issue with the ultimate goal of effecting change.