Jarrett F., Service Learning

Student Status: Sophomore
Course: PMAP 3021 Citizenship, the Community, and the Public Sector
Category: Service Learning
Opportunity: Saturday School Academy at Big Bethel AME Church

“This just shows how important it is to gain experience. Some things you’ll never be able to tell are a problem until you experience it.”

Q: Tell us about the course.

A: The main point of the course is to learn how to be a good citizen. You go out and volunteer 40 hours so you can learn about problems in the community that people are facing, and learn how to get more involved and how getting involved in the community will get you more involved politically and get you to pay more attention. Over the course of the semester, you meet once a week for an hour and fifteen minutes for class and then you go and do your service project during the other class hours for that week. Most people did about four hours a week over the course of the semester, but I did six hours every Saturday for the last two months.

Q: What did you do for your project?

A: I went to the Saturday School Academy, which is hosted by the Big Bethel AME Church. It is a Saturday school tutoring program for people in underserved communities. The church goes and picks up kids from low income housing around the Atlanta area and they bus them to the church. There are normally thirty-five or forty kids. Then they feed them breakfast, lunch and dinner. We do tutoring in the morning and an enrichment activity in the afternoon, which will be life lessons like how to tie a tie or what it means to be a man or different lessons like that which they might not get at home. They try to break it up where every student there is with one mentor, but normally one mentor ends up with around three or four kids in their group. I helped with meal preparations and tutoring and then just hanging out with the kids. In the afternoon I was like a resource, someone that is older than they are and can give advice for their future.

Q: How was the service learning aspect of the course helpful?

A: I enjoyed it. It was something different and you don’t have to sit in the classroom as often; you get to go out and do something that was fun sometimes. We got to bring what we were learning at our service sites back in the classroom to add more to discussions and make it more interesting. It’s important to be involved in the community and by being involved in the community you are being involved politically and it is all connected. Your political engagement is related to your civic engagement. It all comes together and it is an important part of being a good citizen.

Q: What were some of the benefits from taking this course?

A: Just getting involved in the community and getting to meet different prominent community members or community leaders that are giving back to the community. You also learn about some different problems that communities are facing and what you can do as an individual to make a difference. It just shows how important it is to gain experience. Some things you’ll never be able to tell are a problem until you experience it. Or you aren’t really able to relate to someone who is undergoing or facing a problem that you didn’t really realize existed. I guess it shows that it’s important that you have to get involved in the community and get to know people to be able to truly understand what the community needs are.

Q: Do you think this job will help you with your future?

A: I am a public policy major. I am interested in government and law-making, so through my service learning, I have met the City Council member for the district a couple of times through a partnership that the Saturday School Academy has through the YoBoulevard initiative to improve that corridor of the city.