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Announcing the 31st Annual National Service-Learning Conference

Posted By Amy Meuers, Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The National Youth Leadership Council is honored to partner with Harry Hurst Middle School and St. Charles Parish Public Schools to bring you the 31st Annual National Service-Learning Conference, April 16 – 18, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

This year’s theme is Unmask Your Potential– it’s a call for educators and community members to join in partnership with students to make positive change in the world. The mission of the National Service-Learning Conference is to bring recognition to the contributions that young people are making to change the world and to help prepare them and their adult mentors in reaching their goals. The conference does this through learning, inspiration, and connection. Both youth and adults come out of the experience with the tools and resources, ideas and inspiration, to return home to improve their practice, their schools, and their communities.

The 31st annual conference will provide more than 60 hands-on learning opportunities through workshops, keynotes, and thought leader sessions. Topics range from social-emotional learning and civic education to youth leadership and international service-learning. The conference will conclude with a Day of Service in partnership with the Wetland Watchers Coastal Restoration Service-Learning Project of Louisiana. Whether you are new to service-learning or an experienced practitioner, this conference has something for you.

There are many ways for you to get involved in this year’s event by presenting and exhibiting to sponsoring and attending. Join us at the world’s largest gathering of service-learning leaders, educators, and change-makers for Unmask Your Potential!

Learn more and register today!

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Tags:  national service-learning conference  professional development  service-learning  youth leadership 

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Twenty Teams Receive Project Ignition Grants to Promote Safer, Smarter Driving

Posted By Administration, Monday, August 19, 2019

ST. PAUL, Minn. (August 19, 2019) – Coordinated by the National Youth Leadership Council® and funded by The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, Project Ignition has selected 20 teams from throughout the United States to receive $1,000 service-learning teen driver safety grants in 2019. 

 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, auto crashes are the number one cause of death for teens in this country. Project Ignition is a youth-led response that connects academic goals to address the issue of teen driver safety through service-learning. The grants will support student-designed and student-led campaigns aimed at preventing car crashes in their community. 

 

“Young people have unique capacity to influence their peers’ behaviors. Especially when supported by adult allies, students can save lives by changing practices such as seat-belt use or the decision to not drive under the influence,” said Amy Meuers, NYLC CEO. “Together with The NHTSA, we are honored to provide students and their adult allies with the support they need to transform their ideas into realities and make a measurable difference in teen driver safety. Recognition of these efforts affirms the capabilities of young people to lead effectively on issues that affect their community.”

 

Each applicant’s plans were evaluated during a rigorous judging process and 20 were selected, in part, based on a commitment to service-learning and the use of proven-effective strategies in changing teen driver behavior. Students will inform, engage and motivate their peers while teachers and afterschool program educators will simultaneously link these activities to academic curriculum. View the full list of participating team here.

 

The two most effective campaigns that emerge from these 20 will be honored at the 2020 National Service-Learning Conference. Youth representatives from these national leaders will be recognized for their commitment to saving lives and positively impacting the communities in which they live.

 

For more information about NYLC and service-learning go to www.nylc.org.

Tags:  project ignition  service-learning  teen driver safety  youth leadership 

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A High School Musical: A Reflection on the Shinnyo-en Foundation Annual Retreat

Posted By NYLC, Monday, August 19, 2019

by Carmen Lopez Villamil



The Marconi Conference Center sits atop a hill that overlooks the bay. To reach it, one must drive through San Francisco’s famed pastel homes, across the Golden Gate Bridge, and along miles of road that twist around hilly farmland and between magnificent redwoods. This drive was only the beginning of the wonder and joy that I experienced at the Shinnyo-en Foundation’s Annual Retreat.



If you have yet to discern the setting of the retreat, feel free to reread the first paragraph. If I was unclear, the Marconi Center is beautiful. As we drove along the bay and turned into the forest on Friday afternoon, I had no idea what I would experience over the next few days. First, I met Jay: exuberant and inattentive to norms, notably, those set by Ineko. Ineko is powerful, composed, and kind. I then met my roommate, Esha, and the other high school students at the retreat. We were acquainted through an admittedly stressful name game, involving the memorization of 35 names and associated foods. In this short introduction, I discovered that everyone, from the Shinnyo-en Foudnation staff to my new friends, instantly inspired me with their charisma and passion for service, learning, and the conjunction of the two.


It wasn’t long until I figured out the purpose of the retreat. Sandra Bass, the director of the Public Service Center at Berkeley, began her workshop with her family history. Her story was of slavery, segregation, and of her parents’ triumph over systemic oppression. The social context of this history is the ground, while the ensuing values are her roots. She went on to describe family and the Public Service Center as her support system, her trunk. And the culmination, the fruit, was service, in its many manifestations. The retreat’s purpose was to help individuals discover why they serve and how their past informs and strengthens their service. It was to share our roots and our fruits, to contribute to each other’s trunks and ultimately change our shared ground.


This aim was fulfilled most crucially by a group of people I failed to mention earlier: my Homegroup. There were six homegroups, each with six people, and presumably randomly assigned. It was so random, or perhaps this was Ineko’s intent, that I first thought I could not bond or share with them. It’s a shameful revelation, but I find it difficult to talk about myself honestly. And so it began, with what I thought would be a shallow session of sharing our family’s history with a boastful conclusion of what we have accomplished. That was not the case.


By the time the first member of my Homegroup had finished talking, we were all speechless and in tears. As the second person began, I tried to listen wholly and actively, but I realized that I trusted these people and that I must be honest with them. Everyone told their story earnestly, trustingly, and forced me to do the same. Though I typically resort to sarcasm to evade sincerity, and I could not entirely discard this defense, my Homegroup pushed me – or “stretched” me – to be honest. It was empowering to share my values and history to a group of supportive strangers and to form part of that group for others.


On Saturday, after a session on restorative justice that asked us to question systems and norms, and a vulnerable iteration of show and tell (also with our homegroups and highly recommended), was Open Mic night. Nothing could have prepared me for that night. It is important to note that my arsenal of defense mechanisms, along with sarcasm, includes an avid avoidance of public vulnerability: no singing or dancing.


But my new friends, all high schoolers in California, did not share this aversion. Maybe it’s something in the water, or in their case, lack thereof? But earlier that day, we had decided to learn and perform the iconic finale of High School Musical, “We’re All In This Together.” I agreed gleefully and enjoyed our impromptu rehearsals during our free-time. It was all fun and games until we actually had to dance in front of 30 mature adults. But we did it, and there is a video somewhere that I hope you never have to see, and it was one of the most joyous and free moments of my summer.



 

The Shinnyo-en Foundation’s Retreat was a lot like High School Musical; it was an ideal experience of self-exploration, building relationships and pure fun. I cried and laughed, reflected and danced, ate very well and basked in the serene landscape of Northern California. It was a deeply emotional discovery of who I am and its effect on how I serve and learn. I cannot wait to keep stretching myself in everything I do and bring the impactful activities from the retreat back to the rest of the Youth Advisory Council. Above all, I ask you to challenge your assumptions, to trust others with your story, and to discover why you serve. Service-learning is a fantastic pedagogy, but its meaning rests in your reasons for doing it. They are thus worth identifying, even if it requires a little discomfort; or a highly choreographed routine in matching T-shirts.


A special “thank you” to the Shinnyo-en Foundation for creating a powerful agenda and the space for an experience like no other. We are truly grateful.

Tags:  national youth leadership council  retreat  shinnyo-en foundation  youth leadership 

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June-July Service-Learning Digest

Posted By NYLC, Wednesday, July 10, 2019

June – July Service-Learning Digest


Summer is a great time for service-learning, especially the action and celebration steps of the IPARD/C process (learn more about the service-learning process at nylc.org). Check out these great stories for inspiration for your next project!


Methodist College camp puts fun emphasis on volunteering and learning

Nine-year-old Lydia Ellis had fun at camp this week, not by playing but helping.

She spent Tuesday volunteering at the Midwest Food Bank as part of Methodist College’s Summer Learn and Serve Camp. Afterward, she raved to her mom about the experience.

Read more


Knoxville Schools reach new heights in 2018-19

As our students enjoy their summer break, the Knoxville Community School District is reflecting on a school year full of outstanding achievements on the part of our students, staff and community. “We started the school year with a number of ambitious goals to raise the bar for achievement, and also to promote life skills, career development and student well-being,” said Cassi Pearson, KCSD Superintendent. “I am proud of the commitment our students and staff gave to help us accomplish these goals.”

Read more


Local teacher traveling to bring service-learning to classrooms

With stops at Yellowstone National Park, Seattle and then all the way to Belize, a Rowan County educator is putting in the miles this summer to bring a new perspective to local classrooms.

Though her travels will consume all but a matter of days in this year’s nine-week summer break, North Rowan Middle School teacher Angie Fleming is enjoying every moment.

Read more


Forsyth service learning project connects students with senior citizens

A service learning project in Forsyth is connecting students with senior citizens. About 15 kids from Forsyth Middle School have been visiting the Forsyth Nursing and Rehab Center a couple of times per week. On Monday, the students brought special gifts for each resident. "I like giving the gifts because it makes me feel warm inside," Student Olivia Kossmann said.

Read more


Lisbon sixth-graders complete service learning project, ‘Spruce Up Sugg’

Kyle Beeton, teacher at P.W. Sugg Middle School, just finished up a service learning project with his sixth-grade students. The project, named “Spruce Up Sugg,” was designed to use math concepts to help provide a springboard for making improvements to the landscaping around the front of the school.

Read more

Tags:  service-learning  service-learning digest  youth development  youth leadership 

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Points of Light Youth Summit: A Reflection

Posted By Abdihamid Mohamed, Thursday, July 4, 2019

Hey! Are you wondering what the Points of Light Foundation or POLF is? Well you came to the right place. The Points of Light Foundation is an international nonprofit organization that was founded by George H.W. Bush in 1990. The Points of Light headquarters are located in Atlanta, Georgia. It was designed to engage more people and resources in solving major issues through voluntary service. The Points of Light holds a conference every year that talks about this and more. This year’s Points of Light conference was held at the RiverCenter in St.Paul, MN. 

 

My role during the conference was to support the Youth Summit and NYLC’s facilitators, Anthony Le, Sayid Ali, and Maddy Wegner.  The Youth Summit was designed by NYLC to train and help five groups of young leaders enhance their leadership skills and then deliver pitches to adult mentors about a problem that they want to combat in their communities. Each group received a grant to address their issue area. The participants ranged in ages from 13-17 years old. All of these groups were from the state of Minnesota.

 

The teams included students from Linwood Monroe, ArtsUs, DCS, Anoka High School, and Coon Rapids High School. The problems that they wanted to combat were illiteracy, homlessness, helping empower women, and having more diversity. ArtsUs and Anoka High School each want to combat homelessness in their community. Anoka High School wants to address homelessness in their city of Anoka and destroy the stigma around people that are homeless. The team wants to spread awareness to Anoka residents, making sure people realize that homeless people are still people and that they deserve access to basic necessities like everyone else. ArtsUs also wants to combat homlessness but they want to spread awareness about the fact the most people who are homeless in the state of Minnesota are people of color.  Linwood Monroe is going to address illiteracy in their community by organizing a 5k run with all of the proceeds going to the Minnesota Literacy Council where they can give people with illiteracy the tools they need. The team from DCS wants to help kids all over the world feel empowered, specifically young girls and women in countries where they do not have equal opportunities like their male counterparts. The last team, Coon Rapids High School wants people to be aware of the many cultures that they have in their city. They want people in their community to get along, regardless of what background or “clique” they are in. They will hold cultural education events throughout the school year, highlighting the different cultures that they have in their city.

 

During the Youth Summit my job was to help NYLC’s trainers prepare each team for their pitches. All of them had amazing pitches and they all got an award. The ArtsUs got a grant of $1,500 for their creative pitch which included dancing and drumming. The rest of the teams each received $1,000 dollars to implement change in their communities. The creativity and passion of the Youth Summit participants is best represented by this poem written by Lorraine Wongbi from Anoka High School.

 

The American Dream

What is the American Dream?

A Dream that those outside are simply longing to live

They long to live

While some inside are trying to live

Living off the scraps of society 

Expressing and breathing anxiety

Judgement. Why are we so quick to judge the homeless

Why are we so quick to hate, spit rage, disgrace and blame the less fortunate

Man... just imagine being homeless 

Just imagine having to worry about your next move

Praying to even see food 

Wanting to see the good in humanity 

While slowly just losing your sanity

Now look... we all just need to care for another

We all need to stop acting like those who are homeless are a societal bother 

I mean we are all human at the end of the day 

So might as well help those less fortunate to find another way.

~Lorraine Wongbi


The entire conference was amazing and I got to meet such wonderful people.   I hope to meet even more amazing people in future trainings with NYLC.


Tags:  civic action  youth advisory council  youth leadership  youth voice 

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Global Event: 100 Million Campaign

Posted By NYLC, Sunday, April 7, 2019

(This article was originally posted on November 12th, 2018 on nylc.org.)

NYLC is pleased to invite you to take part in an inspiring global event connecting young people and decision-makers across the world. Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi and the National Youth Leadership Council are supporting a week of global action, taking place internationally the 12th–18th November, that will see parliamentarians, local officials and representatives visit schools to learn with students about the 100 million most marginalized children and be part of an international film screening for social change.
 
Schools will also have the chance to screen the new award-winning film, THE PRICE OF FREE, throughout November for free. This new documentary follows the true stories of children rescued from child labor in India and their journey to freedom.  As part of the film’s commitment to young people, schools around the world will be able to screen it for free, two weeks before its official release. Watch the documentary trailer here (password is pmprice).
 
By taking part in the week of global action your school will be able to:

  • Join thousands of schools across the globe for the international release of the award-winning documentary streaming online in November. 
  • Support students in their school to be active citizens, sharing their passion and ideas for a better world directly to decision-makers, learning about the 100 million children still denied their right to be free, safe, and educated.
  • Help encourage students to think of other young people in their community, their country and around the world increasing global understanding and compassion.

If you are interested in taking part, please email shasti@100million.org for more information. A school pack with all of the details for the screening and ideas for lesson plans can be found here and the Speak Truth To Power lesson that features Kailash can be found here. We hope you are inspired to join schools around the world and help strengthen global compassion and understanding.

Tags:  events  Nobel Laureate  Nobel Peace Prize  professional development  youth leadership  youth voice 

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Nurturing Learners, Growing Leaders

Posted By NYLC, Sunday, April 7, 2019

(This article was originally posted on November 12th, 2018 on nylc.org.)

Each year the National Service-Learning Conference brings together more than 600 educators, administrators, higher-education faculty, non-profit leaders, government officials, AmeriCorps members, and students from across the nation and around the world for three days of learning, connection, and inspiration. The 30thAnnual National Service-Learning Conference will take place April 14 – 16, 2019 in Philadelphia, P.A.

This year, the National Service-Learning Conference is excited to partner with New Foundations Charter School for Nurturing Learners, Growing Leaders.  “We are thrilled to serve as the host school for the National Service-Learning Conference. Keeping schools as the heart of the community is important to education and we work hard every day at NFCS to ensure we serve our larger community,” Shira Woolf-Cohen, Principal.  It’s a theme that connects educators and community members joining in partnership with students, to make positive change in the world.

The conference provides more than 100 hands-on learning opportunities through workshops, keynote and thought leader sessions. Topics range from social-emotional learning and civic education to youth leadership and international service-learning. Whether you are new to service-learning or an experienced practitioner, this conference has something for you. A Rookie series offers introductory sessions on the practice of service-learning while the research and thought leader sessions will engage even the most seasoned professional.

Networking is a key component of the conference with dedicated opportunities to meet and interact with other attendees from your region or from across the world. Evening receptions, exhibit hall times, lunches, and breakfasts are spaces designed for you to make connections that will advance your practice and inspire you to take-action.

The National Service-Learning Conference prides itself on student participation at every level. Students make up nearly half of conference attendees and can be found on the plenary stage, facilitating workshop sessions, showcasing their projects, participating in hands-on service projects, or mingling in the youth room. Youth of all ages are welcome at the event (with an adult mentor).

Mark your calendars today with these important deadlines:

  • Got something important to impart? Submit a workshop proposal.Deadline is November 23, midnight CST.
  • Showcase an amazing service-learning project. Deadline is February 22, midnight CST.

We look forward to welcoming you to Philadelphia. We guarantee this is a conference you won’t want to miss.

Tags:  events  featured  professional development  service-learning  youth leadership  youth voice 

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Cultural Immersion: A Reflection

Posted By NYLC, Sunday, April 7, 2019

(This article was originally posted on October 1st, 2018 on nylc.org.)

It’s 4:30am,

I feel so alive that I don’t feel tired anymore,

All I hear is birds chirping,

The cool breeze hits my body and sends chills through my veins,

Goosebumps make the hairs on my arm stand tall,

I prostrate to my lord,

Crying,

Prostrating longer than I’m supposed to,

This moment does not feel real,

This mosque is heaven on earth and I don’t want to leave…

Every day for the rest of my life can be spent in …

…. Turkey,

A place where you can feel the love and peace in the air,

A place where the water current is never stationary,

80 million people with smiles on their faces,

Welcoming all people from different nationalities and races,

A place your taste buds have never tasted,

Where the love is Cherished and never wasted,

The call for prayer is loud and clear,

music to my soul.

First off, I want to thank everyone that made this trip possible for me and for the youth that joined. I am forever thankful to the good-hearted people that took the time, effort and money to put this into play. I would have never known about the other side of the globe that was so beautiful and worth every second of my time if it wasn’t for this trip. It has really empowered me as a Muslim American and I had a great time and the people that came with me knew I had a great time. I tried to soak in as much knowledge as possible and enjoy my time as much as possible too. I really do believe that trips like this with youth can improve relations between Turkey and the United States. You won’t find anything but love in Turkey and I say that because people there will go out of their way to have a conversation with you or even help you out when they do not know you.

Before I went on this trip I studied a bit about Turkey’s economics, its culture, and their way of life.  I found it quite intriguing but reading about a country is not the same as visiting. I was mind blown about their culture and how similar it was to Middle Eastern cultures I was familiar with, I am Palestinian.  I experienced many different artifacts and I loved how the Turks preserved their rich and valuable history. With everything going on in the world right now and the fact that their dollar is being attacked by neighboring Muslim countries, they still remain calm and find a lot of hope in building a Muslim nation in a secular country. I can tell the people of Turkey love their history because throughout every conversation I had with a Turkmen they made sure to stir in some history into the conversation. They name their children after sultans, and influential Islamic leaders that shaped Turkey.

I got the chance to visit many mosques that empowered me as a Muslim adult. To see how vast and big these mosques were and how there were so many of them everywhere really inspired me. Many sultans and powerful Islamic leaders lived, prayed, and taught in these lands and for that reason, as a Muslim American, I feel the need to carry the responsibility of Islam on my shoulders. These sultans and leaders had the power and authority to build huge mosques with four to six minarets shows me how very powerful and influential they were in their times. Something you would not see in the United States.


I believe that by coming on this trip and seeing, feeling, and hearing everything that I did was a great accomplishment. I had the opportunity to experience many things students my age have not experienced. I was able to do things they could not imagine, like praying in huge and beautiful mosques. These mosques had calligraphy from the Ottoman times on their ceilings and walls, it was so powerful. I was able to eat delicious food and really dive into Muslim and Turkish culture.

This trip has shaped my plans for the future. I am currently a business student at Century College, studying International Trade, specifically import and export. This trip has given me new insights on where I can start my career and what countries I could be dealing with in the trade industry. I learned things like what I can and can’t bring to America, what’s profitable and what’s not, and what can help both economies because that’s what trade is for. I definitely believe the trip has opened more doors for me, it was a great learning experience for both my career and my life.

This trip has inspired me to become an active Muslim and has strengthened my faith. I learned that throughout all the secularism that you’re around you should still be the person you want to be.  I want to be the Muslim and I want to be proud of who I am. I want to always strive to be the best person I can be and not worry so much about others’ opinions.  I need to just do the right thing. To take on this weight and knowledge as I return to Minnesota is my responsibility. I hope I can grab the attention of the Muslim community as this is also my responsibility. We Muslims need to unite and help each other hand in hand to raise awareness of who we really are and what it means to be a Muslim. We might have our careers, jobs, and life pressures but must also pay attention to how we use our resources, knowledge and careers to strengthen our community.

Tags:  events  reflection  youth leadership 

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Talking Turkey

Posted By NYLC, Sunday, April 7, 2019

(This article was originally posted on April 4th, 2018 on nylc.org.)

By: Amy Meuers, NYLC CEO

I had the honor to speak at the Japanese Conference on Philanthropic Education on Saturday, March 17 at Komazawa University, Tokyo. Japan has placed great emphasis on peace education ever since WWII including the incorporation of it in their 9th grade civics classes and in their constitution under Article 9. My participation in the conference was to share how service-learning is a way for students to be active participants in their own education. My desire was to show that when students discover the positive impact they can have in the world – that is when the real learning occurs.

At NYLC, we envision a world where all young people become civically informed and engaged global citizens by participating in service-learning as part of their educational experience. We work with educators (both in the classroom or after school), students, community leaders, and businesses to incorporate peace, justice, and sustainability into the fabric of all education systems by asking students to be of service to their community as part of their educational experience –to learn, lead, and grow through service-learning.

Successful service-learning projects are tied to specific learning objectives, and many of the best are tied to numerous areas of study. For example, when seventh- and eighth-graders studied the historical significance of a local river, they developed projects to build nature trails, tested water samples, documented contamination of the local habitat, and restored historical sites. Their teachers connected those activities to studies in earth science, mathematics, language arts, physical education, music, visual arts, and social studies. These connections not only deepened the impact projects had on learning, but also provided the young people with a broader understanding of how different subjects are interrelated. Service-learning helps students make connections to learning outside the classroom. It is hands-on learning but most importantly, it connects to community and empowers each student to lead change.

The 20th century educator, John Dewey is the founding father of service-learning. It is based on his central tenets of experience and democracy. He wanted to see students experience education. He said, “When the school introduces and trains each child of society into membership within such a little community, saturating him with the spirit of service, and providing him with instruments of effective self-direction, we shall have the deepest and best guarantee of a larger society which is worthy, lovely and harmonious.” Dewey wasn’t the only educator who felt this way. Progressive activist Jane Addams, Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, and Mahatma Gandhi all envisioned education rooted in community and democratic principles.

 It (education) “either functions as an instrument that is used to facilitate the integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes ‘the practice of freedom,’ the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” -Paulo Freire

Transforming the world –powerful stuff. Service-learning encourages students to not only dream of a better future but to create it. It is democracy in action.

As an organization, NYLC has been a champion, a resource, and a contributor to the field of service-learning whether in the United States or in countries around the world. We see ALL young people as active contributors to society, and schools a place where students can act as resources, be active in the learning process, not passive. A place where they produce or contribute to the world, not just a place where they consume. We want all young people to see themselves as someone who can give, lead, and learn. We know that all young people, no matter their background, their abilities, can be leaders through service-learning. It was an honor to bring the tenants of service-learning to Japan and share the tools and resources that have been developed with the educators and students who are passionate about creating a better world for us all.

Tags:  Japan  service-learning  youth development  youth leadership 

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Service-Learning in Japan

Posted By NYLC, Sunday, April 7, 2019

(This article was originally posted on April 4th, 2018 on nylc.org.)

By: Amy Meuers, NYLC CEO

I had the honor to speak at the Japanese Conference on Philanthropic Education on Saturday, March 17 at Komazawa University, Tokyo. Japan has placed great emphasis on peace education ever since WWII including the incorporation of it in their 9th grade civics classes and in their constitution under Article 9. My participation in the conference was to share how service-learning is a way for students to be active participants in their own education. My desire was to show that when students discover the positive impact they can have in the world – that is when the real learning occurs.

At NYLC, we envision a world where all young people become civically informed and engaged global citizens by participating in service-learning as part of their educational experience. We work with educators (both in the classroom or after school), students, community leaders, and businesses to incorporate peace, justice, and sustainability into the fabric of all education systems by asking students to be of service to their community as part of their educational experience –to learn, lead, and grow through service-learning.

Successful service-learning projects are tied to specific learning objectives, and many of the best are tied to numerous areas of study. For example, when seventh- and eighth-graders studied the historical significance of a local river, they developed projects to build nature trails, tested water samples, documented contamination of the local habitat, and restored historical sites. Their teachers connected those activities to studies in earth science, mathematics, language arts, physical education, music, visual arts, and social studies. These connections not only deepened the impact projects had on learning, but also provided the young people with a broader understanding of how different subjects are interrelated. Service-learning helps students make connections to learning outside the classroom. It is hands-on learning but most importantly, it connects to community and empowers each student to lead change.

The 20th century educator, John Dewey is the founding father of service-learning. It is based on his central tenets of experience and democracy. He wanted to see students experience education. He said, “When the school introduces and trains each child of society into membership within such a little community, saturating him with the spirit of service, and providing him with instruments of effective self-direction, we shall have the deepest and best guarantee of a larger society which is worthy, lovely and harmonious.” Dewey wasn’t the only educator who felt this way. Progressive activist Jane Addams, Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, and Mahatma Gandhi all envisioned education rooted in community and democratic principles.

 It (education) “either functions as an instrument that is used to facilitate the integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes ‘the practice of freedom,’ the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” -Paulo Freire

Transforming the world –powerful stuff. Service-learning encourages students to not only dream of a better future but to create it. It is democracy in action.

As an organization, NYLC has been a champion, a resource, and a contributor to the field of service-learning whether in the United States or in countries around the world. We see ALL young people as active contributors to society, and schools a place where students can act as resources, be active in the learning process, not passive. A place where they produce or contribute to the world, not just a place where they consume. We want all young people to see themselves as someone who can give, lead, and learn. We know that all young people, no matter their background, their abilities, can be leaders through service-learning. It was an honor to bring the tenants of service-learning to Japan and share the tools and resources that have been developed with the educators and students who are passionate about creating a better world for us all.

Tags:  Japan  service-learning  youth development  youth leadership 

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