New Year, New Opportunities: Service Learning with ISA Custom Programs

By Emily Grant, ISA Custom Program Manager, Service Learning

At the beginning of every year I take a moment, even if it’s small, to think about my goals and aspirations for the upcoming year. Although clichéd and slightly over-rated in my opinion, New Year’s resolutions never fail to creep into my consciousness come the end of December, providing me with a laundry list of all the things I wish to achieve in the coming months. This year, my New Year’s resolution is to give back more to my community in Austin: to provide a service, or a lending hand, an open heart, or just an ear.

Service-Learning student teaching in the Dominican Republic
Service-Learning student teaching young students in the Dominican Republic

My resolution is simple and not novel, especially among ISA students. In interviews with our service-learning students, the theme of “giving back” is a resounding message that I hear repeated with sincerity. These students want to enrich their traditional college experience with something different. ISA’s custom service-learning programs provide professors with the opportunity to fully immerse their course beyond the lecture hall and into communities and provides study abroad offices with more than just the traditional catalog of services for their students. Service-learning is for every student wishing to find purpose, meaning and connection to their experience abroad and is unlimited in scope. These special programs can be customized for programs ranging from a freshman survey course on diversity to a senior Spanish language Special Topics course.

CP Service Learning students from Rider University in the Dominican Republic
CP Service Learning students from Rider University in the Dominican Republic

Although my personal resolution is local, I am motivated to turn those idealistic goals of “changing the world” into real programs that go beyond volunteerism and classroom theory, to real discussions, change and learning about the challenge of global activism. If you too share these values, you can translate them into reality on your own faculty-led program with ISA’s Custom Service-Learning.

Learn more about ISA’s customized service-learning opportunities abroad or a colleagues’ story on purposeful service-learning abroad.