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Service-Learning at Raritan Valley Community College

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No international programs yet, but the college has programs that focuses on multicultural learning within the United States. Many of the students work with ESL programs and have the opportunity to help a student who is a non-native English speaking student. These students arrive from different countries such as Japan, Russia, China, and other locales. Students who participate in these programs believe that they have learned much through the cultural exchange.

“With community service at a community college, they live in the community where they serve, they feel connected,” noted Moog. “When you talk about service-learning, they’re so connected to the people they serve… you feel a sense of community building.”

As well, students can possibly be placed in programs to assist with Spanish-English programs. Examples of past projects include a bilingual story hour and translation of materials for organizations. One of the organizations focused on domestic violence and a group of nursing students developed a brochure on domestic violence to highlight the different cultural perspectives to this particular topic.

“Students deal with different populations, the elderly, at risk children, animal and youth, the homeless… it’s a way in which students get exposure to many populations and issues within communities,” said Lori Moog, Director of Service-Learning and Community Outreach at Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC).

Past Projects

The program is comprehensive, giving students a chance to participate in service-learning from many different courses. The campus has partnerships with 250 community organizations and students are given academically appropriate placements. Many service-learning participants work in nonprofit and government agencies settings.

“It gives students a chance to see what the world of work is about, set realistic goals and have realistic ideas of what it’s like to work,” commented Moog. “It’s so important to have these kinds of experiences. Even though the intent is to enhance the community, which is the primary goal of service learning, there’s a secondary goal of career exploration and development,” remarked Moog. “I see this consistently with our students where they might be unsure about a particular career goal they want to do, they use service learning to gain exposure to that field.”

Campus Profile

At RVCC, service-learning is seen as preparing students for the kind of education they need for the 20th century. They believe that students will be more informed as they’ve seen firsthand current issues and problems.

“We need to help our students gain employment–not only gain employment, but help them learn to be productive citizens, people who can contribute to community,” explained Moog. “I can’t think of any way better to do that than having service-learning on campus. It’s such a great part of student’s education, it’s real, and it’s something that students need.”

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