HIGH POINT, N.C., Dec. 4, 2012 – Completing homework assignments can be a challenging task for young elementary school children, especially if they’re refugees from another country. The language in which their assignments are written looks foreign, and the world around them is unfamiliar.
But having a mentor to guide them through the process can ensure – and did ensure – that numerous local children are finding a fresh start in High Point, thanks to an English class in the Service Learning Program at High Point University.
The first semester of classes is wrapping up in the new program, which provides HPU students with a service opportunity related to their curriculum. Haley Slone, a sophomore and strategic communication major with a minor in nonprofit management, discovered that she can positively impact a child in small ways like helping them with their homework and teaching their families basic computer skills.
The English class is centered on globalization and made up of 16 students. They partnered with the Learning Together program, housed at the Macedonia Family Resource Center, during the fall semester to help families who have migrated to the United States, some on refugee status, acclimate to their new environment. Slone and her peers helped children in the program complete their homework and taught their mothers how to use a computer – small things that help them succeed in a new world.
The experience was as profound for students like Slone as it was for the elementary students.
“The students in my class have been role models to the children at Learning Together,” says Slone. “We have motivated them to want to come to Learning Together for homework help, and we have also motivated them to further their education. It was amazing to see the children’s change in attitude from day one. They were always thrilled when we showed up and didn’t give us a hard time when it was time for homework.”
Dr. Joseph Blosser, the Robert G. Culp Jr. Director of Service Learning, says the program is part of HPU’s mission to provide a holistic education. All program courses emphasize deep ethical reasoning and encourage students to develop projects that benefit the broader community while gaining professional experience.
“The benefits are clear,” says Blosser. “Students who get involved in the community have a deeper investment in their college experience and are better prepared for the kind of critical thinking demanded by the current job market.”