Summer Break Equals Service Learning for Xavier Students

July 7, 2009

 

Summer break is time for most college students to earn some extra cash, travel or just relax. But for 20 Xavier University students it is a time to learn and become involved in the Greater Cincinnati community.
 
The students are part of Xavier University’s Summer Service Internship Program, in its fifteenth year. The mission of the program is to develop “people for others” and the interns do service work at non-profits and community agencies. Xavier’s program is unique in that it offers stipends to the interns and free housing in Xavier’s Brockman Residence Hall. The students live service 24 hours a day and it becomes an integral part of their lives.
 
Xavier student interns spend nine weeks working at 20 different agencies for 35 hours each week. The work sites include such agencies as Healthy Moms and Babes, United Cerebral Palsy, Stepping Stones Center, Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education and Clovernook Center.
 
“The Summer Service Internship provides an invaluable experience and learning opportunity for the interns and the community at large,” explains Summer Service Student Coordinator Katie Anthony. “The program goes beyond service to emphasize reflection and social justice. The lessons learned by the interns this summer provide them with a new vantage point and new skills to be more effective agents of social change.”

Students keep journals to reflect on their work and attend weekly dinner and community reflection sessions. The students spent time before work started preparing themselves for their experience. They learned about diversity, service, safety, and sense of place and purpose.
 
“While providing services to meet immediate needs, the student interns are grappling with big questions about society, injustice, and what it means to be people for and with others. They are gaining valuable job and life skills they can carry into the future,” notes Angela Gray, Associate Director of Peace and Justice Programs.
 
A survey of the program participants found many reasons as to why the students wanted to participate. Some valued the chance to step outside their comfort zone. Others appreciate the opportunity to make a difference in the world and in the lives of others.
 
“The Summer Service Internship Program is making a positive impact on the lives of our students and on the people in the agencies served by the program,” says Michael J. Graham, S.J., president of Xavier University.  “We greatly appreciate the support of our funders and look forward to continuing this service to our community in the future.”
 
Supporters of the program include The Charles H. Dater Foundation, The Richard D. Reis Family Foundation, John & Francie Pepper, Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. and the Jack J. Smith, Jr. Charitable Trust.