HIGH POINT, N.C., Jan. 15, 2014 – High Point University students in Dr. Sadie Leder Elder’s social psychology course got more than a regular classroom experience over the fall 2013 semester. The service learning course integrated class objectives with service-oriented work by having each student volunteer 25 hours of their time to local organizations in the High Point Community.
Students volunteered at both the Salvation Army’s Boys and Girls Club and Reading Connections. At the Boys and Girls Club, they helped with playtime, homework and other life-skill activities. At Reading Connections, students assisted with office work and participated in literacy classes. In appreciation for their collaborative efforts, HPU students ended the semester by giving something back to each service organization. Those students who worked with the Boys and Girls club hosted a Thanksgiving party, whereas the students at Reading Connections wrapped up the semester by making video memoirs for some of the Reading Connection students they worked with.
“The videos my students created for Reading Connections were really a tribute to both this extraordinary organization and the determination of the Reading Connections students,” said Elder. “The videos focused on how their pursuit of literacy has positively impacted their lives.”
Elder tied in this service work with the lessons students were learning in her class, which focused on the psychological investigation of how thoughts and behaviors are shaped by a person’s situation and environment.
“By having students immerse themselves in service learning with local nonprofit organizations they are exposed to others who have very diverse backgrounds and life experiences. This provides them a better understanding of how we are all impacted by social factors that may be easy to take for granted, like religion, ethnicity, family, economic status and education,” explained Elder.
Students say they truly appreciate the experience.
“The opportunity to be able to work with Reading Connections was wonderful,” says junior Holt Dunn. “I thoroughly enjoyed learning and then being able to apply what I learned outside of the classroom.”
“Volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club provided me with a much stronger bond to the community,” says junior Lauren Rubenstein. “Being able to form relationships with the children and staff really helped me apply the social issues we learned about in class in a fun and meaningful way.”
“It has been rewarding to add the High Point University students to our community of learners,” said Jennifer Gore, Executive Director of Reading Connections. “Each student approached the semester with an eagerness to get to know our adult literacy students and to understand the significant barriers that exist when an adult has limited literacy skills. Our community of learners has been enhanced by the enthusiasm and compassion of these High Point University students – truly service learning at its best!”