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February 13, 2013 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2013-02-13

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6 Wednesday, February 13, 2013 The Statement
Beyond the classroom, into the community
by Melanie Kruvelis

SA senior Emily Rheaume heard
about Project Outreach at just the
right time.
"I was a sophomore - I didn't know what
the hell I was doing," she said. "But I ended up
taking the class that shaped my future."
Rheaume, now a senior in the Interna-
tional Studies Program, hopes to study public
health after she graduates this May, focusing
on maternal and child health. Rheaume said
after taking Project Outreach, a psychology
course that combines lecture with commu-
nity service, she realized what she wanted to
do post-undergrad - and possibly, the rest of
her life.
"When a friend told me about Project Out-
reach, I still wasn't sure what I was doing
here," Rheaume said. "But I could tell that
class sounded different."
In Project Outreach, students split in-class
hours with fieldwork around the Ann Arbor
area. From spending time in juvenile deten-
tion centers to working with ESL preschool-
ers, students break out of the lecture hall and
dive right into the community, giving them a
whole new classroom experience.
Rheume, who was placed in the Univer-
sity of Michigan Health System's childcare
center, said working with three to five year
olds - especially those from international
. families - put her developmental psychology
knowledge to the test.
"There's only so much you can learn in the
classroom," Rheaume said. "Some of the most
important lessons I learned happened right
out there - out in the community."
Project Outreach - or Psychology 211, as
it's listed in the course guide - is one of more
than 60 service-learning classes taught at
the University. LSA Prof. Ian Robinson, the
faculty sponsor for the Sociology Depart-
ment's Project Community course, says these
courses are, to some extent, an offshoot of the
famed campus activism of the 1960s.

"In the mid-60s, a lot of students were
heading down south to engage in the civil
rights movement," Robinson said. "When
they came back to Michigan, they wanted to
continue what had been a transformative part
of their lives."
Many of these students pushed for inde-
pendent studies, hoping to find a way to inte-
grate activism into their class schedule. In
1975, Prof. Emeritus Mark Chesler, one of the
University's leading experts on social justice,
founded Project Community, a course that
bridges the gap between academia and the
ever-elusive "real world." Today, with four
areas of interest and more than 150 students
enrolled each semester, not to mention 20 to
30 Peer Facilitators, Project Community has
grown into one of the largestservice-oriented
courses at the University.
Just like the other service-learning class-
es taught on campus, Project Community is
overseen by the Ginsberg Center, a branch
of the University's division of student affairs.
The center, which focuses on expanding com-
munity service-learning on campus, supports
some 3,000 students each year through its
courses. Dave Waterhouse, the director of
student initiatives at the Ginsberg Center,
says that number is much higher when you
account for the support the center gives to
student organizations across campus.
"It's hard to estimate just how many stu-
dents we reach each year," Waterhouse said.
"But we do know that by the time they gradu-
ate, more than 80 percent of Michigan stu-
dents have had a significant service-learning
Stacked against national averages, these
statistics are impressive. In 2010, about 26
percent of college students in the United
States volunteered in some capacity. Still,
Robinson has noticed a"slight drop in stu-
dent interest in community service, which he
chalks up to growing economic pressures.
"Students today are more strapped for
time," Robinson said. "You've got kids taking
on part-time jobs, which have gone from 10

hours to 20 hours a week. When you're bal-
ancing rising tuition cost, it can be hard to
find the time to volunteer."
Rheaume agreed.
"From the 4 required on-site hours a week,
to the lectures, to the discussion, not to men-
tion the assignments - these classes can be a
lot of work."
"Since they're out of the classroom, a lot
of people sign up for these classes thinking
they'll be easy," Robinson added. "But the fact
is, students might be putting more time into
this class than any other at the University."
And when it comes to actually going out
to these communities, students and faculty
alike realize these classes aren't exactly a
"It's a challenge, you know - going out
into a community where you don't under-
stand someone, and they don't understand
you," said Carole Lapidos, program director
for "It's Great to Be a Girl," a female-oriented
mentorship class that pairs Michigan under-
grads - or Femtors - with middle school
students. "But we really work on preparing
our- Femtors for their experience, because
more often than not, it's a lot more difficult
than they imagine."
Gearing students up for community
engagement isn't as simple as preparing
them for an exam, Waterhouse said. Accord-
ing to Waterhouse, the Ginsberg Center
spends a lot of time with students, training
them for whatever they might face in their
community service.
"We're not here to go in and save any-
body," Waterhouse said. "Our students get
as much out of these experience as anyone
else, and it's important they understand the
ins and outs of the community they're about
to enter."
Lapidos echoed Waterhouse's sentiments.
"IGTBAG doesn't focus on reaching one par-
ticular population. We encourage our Fem-
tors to focus on what they wished they heard
in middle school - not just the differences
they see in each community."

Though the University currently has no
plans to make volunteer service a require-
ment to graduate, Waterhouse says service-
learning experiences will be a priority for
administrators going forward.
"Classes with communwity service com-
ponents are a particular emphasis under
the Third Century Initiative," Waterhouse
said. The initiative, a five-year, $50-million
investment in action-based learning, was
introduced by University President Mary
Sue Coleman in 2011. Focusing on entre-
preneurship, study abroad expansion and
service-learning, Waterhouse says renewed
administrative interest in community service
will help expand the reach of the Ginsberg
"Interest in our programs is growing,"
Waterhouse said. "Students and faculty are
seeingtangible results from our services."
Some students want to see more of a
commitment to community service from
the University by adding it as a require-
ment to graduation similar to LSA's distri-
bution requirement. Today, the Psychology
Department is the only department that
requires community service in order to
"The University should absolutely
require community service," Rheaume
said. "You can't just be an academic when
you come here."
Rheaume paused. "A lecture hall isn't
enough," she said. "You need to go out and
get your hands dirty."
Robinson cautioned of the challenges
that-surround organizing these classes as a
"Setting up the programs is a huge time
(commitment)," Robinson said, mention-
ing the difficulties in coordinating not only
with students, GSIs and peer facilitators,
but also community organizations. "These
classes pay off in the long run. But they
don't come without a serious investment."

outtakes photo by mckenzie berezin/daily
on the record
"Some students just don't know about (Central Student
Government), and we want to do our best (so) that
they do know about (it) and that they can enact change
through the medium of Central Student Government."

"Then boom, Wisconsin just heaves up this prayer with 2 seconds to go."
- Graduate student David Lee
Submit your own photo caption on The Michigan Daily's Facebook page for next week's outtake.

- CHRIS OSBORN, LSA junior and CSG presidential candidate for
forUM about his party's platform.
"It was a great dunk. I thought I was outside the charge
area, but sometimes you don't get those calls. I think that
gave them a lot of momentum."
- TREY BURKE, sophomore Michigan point guard, about being
called for afoul on a dunk made by Wisconsin forward Jared Berg-
"David Fincher ('Zodiac') was hired to be David Fincher,
and these first two episodes are very David
Fincher, indeed."
- SAM CENZHANG, Daily Arts writer, about Fincher directing the
first two episodes ofNetflix's "House ofCards."
CBS issued a "memo"
for the Grammy's this
year, asking stars to
cover up their bits and
pieces for the public.
Luckily, Jennifer Lopez
found the loophole
who said anything
about legs? - and her
entire right leg was able
to make an appearance.

Taylor Swift's opening performance
bashed her latest ex-beau-surprise!
- Harry Styles. Ever so discreetly, she
talked in a poor British accent when
imitating the boy who broke her heart.


Auam Brouy ano eignton oxeester, inAK
Seth Cohen and Blair Waldorf, are rumored
to be dating. Blair's snark with Seth's nerdy
charm? The West coast has never met the
East coast in such a beautiful way.


Pope Benedict XVI
dropped the mic in
the first resignation
of a pope since 1415
Citing "advanced
age," he'll formally
resign on Feb. 28,
leaving the papacy
vacant. Lightning
struck the Vatican
only hours after the
announcement -
total "coincidence."

_ t f a t

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