There is a new service-learning class being held at the Taylorsville Redwood Campus.
The name of this class is Intercultural Communication, COMM 2150. It will be taught by Tamra Phillips. The class has been in existence for a number of years now, but this is the first in which it will have the designation of a service-learning course.
Service learning combines community service with academic instruction, focusing on critical, reflective thinking and personal and civic responsibility, according to the American Association of Community Colleges.
Phillips has the students set up a service project at the beginning of the semester and write a proposal. Since the focus of the class is learning how to communicate with people of other cultures, students have to volunteer and fill a need for an ethnic group other than their own. This can also be a different religious group or a group with an otherwise diverse background.
There are many different ways a student can do service learning. One example is students volunteering their time at the ESL (English as a Second Language) Lab. They help students who are here from out of the country that are learning to speak English. Doing this type of service-learning, students are able to learn about another culture.
“I can teach all I want about another culture, but a hands on experience is a lot better,” Phillips said.
Students use the theories taught in the class to help communicate with another culture. Students are able to pick their own project but must stay with it the entire semester.
Phillips has had students do a number of different projects for her class. One student that was studying sign language volunteered at the Deaf and Blind School for her project. She has had a student volunteer at the food bank and another who volunteered at Deseret Industries. There is also a partnership with the Sorenson Multicultural Center. There students help elementary age kids that go there after school with their homework.
Students taking this class were asked to fill out a questionnaire the first day of the semester. They were asked to explain their definition of service learning, what their expectations were for the course, what they thought might be some benefits and challenges of taking a service-learning class and whether or not they thought service-learning and intercultural communication are a good fit.
Phillips received all types of answers. Ann Alleman answered, “Being out in the field and learning,” for the first question, “A lot of interaction with each other,” was her answer to the second. She answered, “More hands on,” for the third, and for the fourth she said, “Yes, it helps by showing examples to understand intercultural communication.”
The students in the class have a positive attitude about the class.
Staycia Mcarthur is a nursing and music therapy student. She said, “I think the class is a really smart idea in general because it helps you experience other cultures and through service you can get to know one another better.”
“I have to take this class as one of my generals. It’s a great class because students get to pick their own projects that are meaningful to them. It’s a great way for students to be involved with the community,” John Richardson, architectural student said.
Service-learning is part of the class for the entire semester. Students have to do course reading, they have to write a weekly reflection and they have to keep a log complete with field notes on what they did with their project. Finally they have to turn in a final paper using the theories taught in class to explain what they did in their service project.