From the Blog
Across the world young people are learning lessons from their teachers, their parents, their elders, their mentors, and their friends. They are sharing, expanding, and changing their culture. They are shaping how they view the world. They are making real, positive changes in their communities and across the globe. When young people take what they are learning and apply it in service to their community – that is service-learning.
A sample of perspectives from New Foundations Charter School
Last year my students from New Foundations Charter School had the task of capturing the entire conference through countless photos and video clips. I had been to many conferences alone as an educator, but as soon as our bus made its final stop in Washington, D.C., I knew that for the next few days my students would be leading and I was more than happy to follow. I had never been to a conference that was so youth-driven and engaging. The workshops really inspired students and educators to make a lasting impact in their communities. My video team students never had a dull moment at the National Service-Learning Conference. From morning workshops to the evening plenary, the team worked tirelessly to show the many facets of this amazing event.
The most rewarding part of the conference was standing back and letting my students figure out how to film in fast pace environments. Giving my students the power and freedom to express themselves using visual tools is just another form of supporting youth voice. Not only were they capturing their peer’s opinions on government and environmental issues, but they were active participants in showing that youth can lead when given the opportunity to do so. This year, New Foundations Charter School will return to capture all the amazing youth development events that the National Service-Learning Conference has to offer. I am so excited to watch my students grow over a few short days while engaging their generation in social change!
According to a recent Associated Press – GfK Poll, volunteering was the only civic activity that adults under 30 were just as likely as older people to rate as very important. The potential to learn through volunteer work is great, and the poll is a positive sign that youth recognize the value of making commitments to their community. These new experiences that come from long-term engagement and genuine connections have the power to rewrite the way youth think about their world and approach problems, while honing their capacity to recognize the things they have in common with people very different from them.
That’s why we are happy to partner with the National Youth Leadership Council to co-host the 2015 National Service-Learning Conference, More Powerful Together, in Washington D.C. this April. The conference attracts students (and the adults that work with them) from across the country who care deeply about their communities. Through workshops on topics covering every stage of the service-learning process and issue engagement, attendees are able to develop the skills and strategies to address the problems that matter the most to them and network with others who share the same passions and goals. At the National Service-Learning Conference, we have the opportunity to connect our work in volunteerism to that of hundreds of others across the country, and reach out to students and those who work closely with students about the potential that exists when one is meaningfully engaged in a community.
The other week, I had the opportunity to travel to Georgia to capture video of the work NYLC is doing in the Henry County School District. I sat it on classrooms implementing service-learning for the first time ever. The partnership between NYLC and the district is still young, and last month marked the maiden voyage for service-learning in Henry County. I talked with students, teachers, and administrators. Everywhere, the excitement was palpable.