Civic Engagement: Experience Life Outside the College Bubble!

Emilie Scardilla
This post is part of a small series of posts written by current Honors students about their experiences with the Honors Program. They will be talking about their classes, capstones, anything that pertains to their journey through the program!

 By Emilie Scardilla ’17 A&S, Policy Studies

My first semester of college I took a Honors Service Learning writing course. I wanted to see how community service could be incorporated into a classroom setting and thought it seemed like a cool concept. Because of my schedule and interests, I was placed at North Side Learning Center (NSLC), which is a local nonprofit that focuses on adult and youth literacy. I was excited because NSLC works specifically with refugees and immigrants and I am very interested in learning about other cultures.

I volunteered in the Beginning English adult class. At first, I was unsure how to act because I had rarely interacted with adults who were strangers, much less teach them. My first day, the teacher and founder of NSLC, Dr. Yusuf Soule, told me that in the classroom of nine students, there were eight different countries represented. I was in awe of this. He then had each student do NSLC’s signature introduction- Name, where they are from, and how long they have been in America. Every time a guest came to class, like clockwork, the students recited their introductions. I quickly learned that the class itself was very structured and routine: first they would write the full date on the board, then they would copy down a whole paragraph, then they would do various worksheets, and finally, an activity that required them to speak. I served as a supportive and helpful consultant in the class and towards the end of the semester, I even led a few activities in class.

I came to know many of the students by talking to them during the break we had in the middle of class. They loved to talk about their family, work, and homeland, and I loved to hear their stories. I even met some of the kids during our breaks as well, who would discuss high school courses and college with me. NSLC created a family atmosphere. The experience I had at NSLC was so positive that I volunteered there two semesters after I took the course because I wanted to.

Those couple hours reminded me that there is life outside of college and I would not have traded it for anything in the world.

Although I am unable to volunteer at NSLC this semester, I often wonder how everything is going, especially with a change in leadership and location change. I do not know what my college experience would have been like without going to NSLC and I have Honors to thank for this.

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