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Service-Learning at Rollins College

Countries visited

The Bahamas, Cuba, Ecuador, South Africa, Thailand among other countries

Past projects

In the Abaco Islands of the Bahamas, students of Rollins have worked in areas of children advocacy, specifically with children who have low to high special needs such as autism and learning disabilities. In various trips, students have worked with local organizations. One of the partnerships was with Every Child Counts, which helps train students in trades like information technology, provides funding for music students, and creates opportunity for environmental work. Another past project took place in Nepal. Students had the opportunity to work with education foundations and health camps.

The campus also believes in promoting service immersion experiences during the school year. Apart from spring break programs, Rollins also offers weekend programs in the local community. In the past, students have driven to Petersburg, Florida to work on issues dealing with housing and urban development. They’ve also traveled to work in Austin, Texas to work on projects related to criminal and restorative justice. Likewise, they’ve worked in Miami, Florida on issues of immigration.

International projects can come from a student committee or a faculty-initiated passion area. For example, there was a faculty-led trip to the Dominican Republic that featured the issue of water management. On the other hand, students can propose international service learning projects such as the proposal by Nepalese students to visit organizations in Nepal.

“Students do interesting stuff, but the goal is try to create partnerships that are long lasting and sustainable. We don’t just want to go to this country in 2012 and that country in 2013,” remarked Michele Meyer, Director of Office of Community Engagement. “We try to find meaningful work and work with the community.”

Campus Profile

The mission of Rollins College is to educate global citizens and responsible leaders who can serve at the local, state, national, and international level.

“I think that service learning has the opportunity to transform all of those involved. Not just the student in the way that that student lives the life, but also the faculty member, transform the way they teach, the way they learn, the way they interact with the community. I think it’s a transformation on all ends–that’s why it’s so important,” said Meyer. “It prepares students for life of citizenship after they leave. No matter what seat they live in, they think about these issues. If they are a business owner, they think about the ethics and the responsibility to people living in poverty. If they become a teacher, they can’t teach without thinking about teaching underserved children. If they become a grocer, they can’t be a good grocer without thinking of people who pick fruits and vegetables. Service learning is the most powerful tool to prepare students for citizenship.

Service-learning is fully integrated in all aspects of the school.

“If you look at any guidebook or brochures about Rollins, it talks about our commitment to the community. When students decided that they want to come to Rollins, service-learning starts the minute they sign up… the summer orientation option for students has a big community service project closely linked with Rollins… Fall orientation, we have a big day of service learning called SPARK, service philanthropy activism rolling college, a day that engages with 36 different community organizations in central Florida and projects meet core school objectives. So before the first day of school, students have already participated in at least 10 hours of service,” explained Meyer.

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