CBL 101: Student reflections on community service
"I always wanted to build something."
When University of Wisconsin-Parkside student Susan Grabowski volunteered through the fall semester Community Based Learning (CBL) 101 class to help Racine Habitat for Humanity, it was an opportunity for her to fulfill a long-held aspiration. Grabowski and her classmates performed at least 15 hours of community service for various local non-profits.
"Students focus their efforts on learning the scholarship and practice of community engagement in all of its many forms," said CBL instructor Chris Zanowski. "Our curriculum explores what it means to be an engaged local and global citizen."
Students were asked to write about the experience before, during, and after the semester. "I expect to feel a sense of accomplishment because of the work that I am doing," said Ida Infusino prior to working at Kenosha's Safe Harbor Humane Society.
Midway through the semester, students like Gabriel Coronado found themselves gaining confidence from their CBL work.
"My initial expectations were that a lot of people were, maybe, not going to take me seriously as a student and mentor. But, in reality, these students?want to learn," Coronado said of his experience at John XXIII Educational Center.
"This class has opened my eyes," added Joaquin Paige, a CBL volunteer at Growing Power, Milwaukee.
At Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha, at Racine Urban Garden Network, at Racine & Kenosha Community Action Agency, at Habitat, Safe Harbor, John XXIII, and Growing Power working was, in the words of one student, "powerful" learning.
"Working on the roof of the soon-to-be-house?I mean, that was some powerful stuff," said Habitat volunteer Jeffrey House.
But just working wasn't enough. Examining what the work meant was an important part of community based learning. "In class, we often discuss how reflection is a powerful way to experience and understand one's work," Zanowski said.
For Grabowski, Infusino, Coronado, Paige, House, and fellow students Shikeyla Buckley, Devin Cook, Jeff Keuch, Corydon Majack, Jose Munoz, Ciara Taylor, Alex Tompsett, Adam Vanderheyden, Tierra Williams, Miranda Woodley, and Devante Young life lessons were an important takeaway from CBL 101.
"Teamwork is the biggest thing in community involvement," Habitat volunteer Jeff Keuch stated.
"My art will be seen by many people in the area, and I can put this on my resume," said Alex Tompsett, a Racine Urban Garden Network volunteered. "It is a wonderful experience."
"I knew that even though I was doing a bunch of little tasks, they built up at the end into a beautiful house," Keuch added.CBL 101 held a semester ending showcase to highlight what students gave to and what they learning from their community based learning work.