As an upper-level college student, I am often faced with the dilemma of narrowing down a very broad topic into a very detailed thesis. As you might know, writing papers is all about structure, and you can’t build a strong argument on a shaky thesis. This challenge frequently leaves me staring at my textbooks for hours trying to figure out how to take a grand idea and turn it into something practical. So, I understood the strife of our students this Tuesday as they tried to narrow down and combine their interests and concerns into a manageable service learning project.
We started off with a worksheet which posed the challenge to create a service learning project by combining an interest and a community issue. I personally think the greatest difficulty in creating a project is finding the means of combining both ideas into something that can actually function. For example, it’s easy to say you want to combine your interest in dance with your interest in cultural education, but then little details get in the way, like, how are you going to talk to kids about culture and keep their attention? Are you going to have them participate in the dance, or are you going to perform for them? What dance will you perform and why is it significant? These questions can cause cracks in the foundations of projects, and sometimes they are hard to patch up, but these kids worked through them like champs!
They have come up with a lot of brilliant ideas. For example, one of our students is concerned with teaching kids about where their food comes from. In other words, she wants to show kids that food doesn’t just come from a grocery store. She is thinking about doing a program in our new greenhouse in order to teach kids about this topic! Isn’t that awesome? There are lots of other great ideas that include topics such as the history of technology, dance, culture, food, art, and giving kids some time to dream. Be sure to check back for individual student interviews, which will allow you to get to know these kids and a little about their projects!