Dr. Moira Di Mauro-Jackson
What do you like about Service-Learning? I believe that SL magnifies the effects of a student's Education Abroad experience. Service learning offers an opportunity for students to be an active participant in a community, and this increases substantially their benefits. Students also gain much from the experience regarding their futures. They will come home more employable, equipped with a variety of improved soft and hard skills, and typically a more defined career path.
What are the benefits of teaching a Service-Learning course? The student experience is so enhanced that a well balanced Education Abroad program including Class strategy, site visits and Service Learning is always a great success! As the Abroad Program Director, I become a part of something the students will reflect upon for a very long time.
What do you believe students get out of taking your course? Students can gain an entrée into, in my case, the Italian community (perhaps for life) by living, working and learning alongside myself, themselves and the community they service. Students get to feel good about truly making a difference in this community, and they gain a deep reflection that connects SL with broader social, development, and global issues such as poverty, social justice and gender equality. Finally, to just name a few other gains, let's add leadership experience, awareness, self-improvement and growth, global understanding, language skills and intercultural understanding at a deep level!
What are your planned Service-Learning activity/activities this summer? While abroad the students assist an elementary school English teacher in Florence, they assist in a Senior center assisting the elderly playing Tombolone (an Italian version of Bingo) and in the Amalfi Coast, they engage a group of diversely-abled Italian individuals in occupational theory activities such as cooking, dancing or making pottery, all the while learning about the country’s history, culture and language. Unfortunately, this summer, due to an ongoing pandemic, all Education Abroad programs have been cancelled. But pending cataclysms, catastrophes, pandemics and the unexpected, I will always try and offer the Florence and Amalfi Coast program next Summer. So please consider joining me for the Gruppo Italia 2021. If you come with me you will be able to spend 2 weeks in Tuscany and spend 2 weeks in the Amalfi Coast. You will study, Travel, Live, Learn, Experience, Discover through a Guided, Intensive, History-rich Cultural Experience through a Program that has been educating students abroad since the summer of 2005.
Students describing there experience
"Service learning is hard work. You have to pour the right amount of ingredients: a cup of patience, an open mind, 3 teaspoons of kindness and a lot of love. You mix those all together and you get what is essentially the cake mix for service learning. The rest is just being present and letting the cake mix sit in the oven. It was a great opportunity for me to feel like I had given back to the communities that we've been living in these past few weeks. Service learning was as sweet as this cake and well worth the effort."
"I’ve always loved to volunteer in the states but enjoyed it even more in Italy! I love the fact that we were able to volunteer in every aspect of the community from environmental to children, seniors to the disabled... I think it was rewarding on both sides!"
"Service learning has been an eye opening experience. I have learned so much about the culture of Northern and Southern Italians. Volunteering in another country has made me realize that the best way to learn about a culture is to embed yourself within it. After volunteering in Italy I believe I will start to volunteer during other travel experiences to learn more about the places I travel."
"I can definitely say that service learning has helped me understand some more about Italian life. It was really interesting to see the community in a way that I wouldn’t have seen if we hadn't done this. It was also just a nice feeling when we were thanked by the locals for helping to clean their parks or when we helped the local school children to learn English. Service learning was certainly a valuable experience."
"Service learning was a way to connect with the community on a deeper level. Studying abroad teaches you things you’d never learn just vacationing, but interacting with the locals on a one to one basis during the park clean ups, the school visits, and the day spent with Oltre Sogni, opened my eyes to what life is truly like living in Italy."
"Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos of the service learning here in Sorrento. I had an unexpectedly awesome time. We got to learn about traditional music and dances here and had a fun time trying (I’m an expert now) to pick up the dances. For me it was an important experience because it helped me learn more about the functions of the community and how people that are traditionally kept in the shadows of Italy are taken care of. Being able to somewhat integrate into the community here in Italy has been invaluable to my experience".
"Volunteering has given me a new outlook on the lives of others and how to give back to a community. It has also helped me understand the culture a little more and enrich my experience. All of the service learning activities were worth it but I think that out of all of them I enjoyed going to the elementary schools the most. I enjoyed going to the elementary schools because it was interesting to see the similarities and differences between Italian and American children. I liked working with Oltre i Sogni because everyone was so friendly and sweet. I enjoyed working for Angeli dei Bello because I loved giving back to the community. I’m so grateful that we got to volunteer and I hope to do more!"
"I did not take any pictures at service learning, I was all about enjoying the moment! Volunteering at Oltre i Sogni and even the elementary schools in Florence have opened my eyes. I knew we were going to do service, but I did not anticipate how much learning would happen. It was amazing to see how these institutions function, and how they help hold up society. Coming to Italy you see all the tourists, and sometimes forget that people live here and need these vital resources, just like at home!"
"Service learning has meant to me new experiences along with new emotions. I never thought of volunteering in another country in such simple ways that make a huge impact. I’m not a music person but these learning opportunities have pushed me out of my comfort zone and showed me that you can do accomplish so much with a givers attitude."
"Service learning in Sorrento with Oltre Sogni was been a amazing experience. I had never experience the amount of joy I felt in the room. The margarita pizzas were so fun to roll out. They were so passionate about the pizza and it was fun to watch the demonstration. It has taught me that being part of a community can have so a valuable impact. It is important to see through their eyes to learn about yourself and your own customs."
"Service learning was a great experience. Everyone was so friendly and sweet and were really excited about making mini pizzas. Bringing the community together is the best way to gain an understanding of those who may be different from you, and food is a great way to do this! When you’re brought together in this way, you find that others may not be so different after all. As Maya Angelou said, “we are more alike than unalike!”
"People are as vast as the seas, oceans, lakes and streams. When the majority of working people wouldn’t include those as fortunate as everyone else, some ensure they are taken care of, a sense of belonging, regardless of any disability they might have, they are human none the less. Overjoyed beyond belief, the expressions of those at oltre sogni, it has been a pleasure."
"I did not take any pictures of the service learning activities, but I enjoyed meeting locals and contributing to making the parks look better. These volunteer activities were important to understand the community on a more personal level."
"This experience has been amazingly impactful just by sharing time with this people. Also, learning so much about the music and the history behind it was super cool. But really it was really a gift to be able to spend time and learn so much from them. Even when I realized that I know so little about American music."
"The service learning activity with Oltre Sogni has been an amazing opportunity to interact with some really kind Italian locals. I loved hearing about the history of the dances we learned and seeing / playing the instruments."
"Service learning has been extremely meaningful to me as a whole. I think that in Florence it truly gave us insight into the community there. Working with the Angeli di Belli provided a source of peace in the middle of a bustling city AND it allowed me more opportunities to use Italian language. Working with the schools there were very interesting and fun as we got to work with the NEXT generation of Italians. But here. Here in Sorrento, working with the Oltre Sogni has been so meaningful. To think of the things that I worry about on a day to day basis quickly becomes a very large list. HOWEVER, to see such passion and joy for life...and such a lack of worry and stress was eye opening. It was humbling. I have definitely walked away from this experience more grateful for my day to day life. I will be looking for more ways to harness that joy and that passion into every day."
"Volunteering with the kids in Florence was an incredibly enriching experience. I love working with kids, and most of my work experience has in some way involved them, so I was very excited when I found out we were working with elementary aged children. What struck me was how during the yoga class, the teacher was explaining purpose behind everything they were doing. She emphasized the importance of mindfulness, and even went as far as to explain the background of the word "namaste" to them. This was different than what I've seen in the states, where yoga with kids is seen less as a form of meditation and more of a aerobics exercise of sorts. Very impressive."