During the celebration of the MLK Day, I reflected upon the meaning of my volunteer activities in the past. How I got involved? What was my motivation to give my time and knowledge to “others”? Why was the act of giving important to me? So many questions with multiple answers … but I found a more comprehensive answer in the current work that I do at Youth Service America (YSA).
The Semester of Service Strategy Guide by YSA describes service-learning as a relevant way to support learning processes, achievement, and workplace readiness while creating an impact in communities. Service-learning can happen anywhere as long as it provides academic content and learning outcomes plus the direct or indirect service component. Interestingly enough, I realized, as a fellow, that I am working on promoting service-learning projects in US and abroad while building and shaping my own year of service-learning. Therefore I was inspired to share with you the five stages of service-learning which some of you may already know. But here is a brief introduction to what many of us have done, consciously or unconsciously, to transform our ideas into action.
Investigation: research about community needs. In our case, as fellows, or own needs. Do we need international experience in our CVs? Do we want to strengthen our language/communication skills? Are we inspired to learn best practices in the US? Etc.
Preparation and Planning: outline ways to meet the need. Apply to Atlas Corps, research on possible host organizations, creating timelines during the process, listing expenses, etc.
Action: implementation of the plan. Make all the necessary arrangements, with Atlas Corps support, to make the fellowship happen.
Reflection: reflection on the entire experience, knowledge, and skills acquired. Fellows may reflect on how their experiences while serving have impacted their own lives. This is also the feedback provided to Atlas Corps, Host Organizations, other fellows, etc.
Demonstration/Celebration: provide evidence of accomplishments and impact. This is the moment of sharing the skills and knowledge acquired during the fellowship and very importantly the moment in which we validate our stay in US as Atlas Corps fellows as a relevant stage in our lives.
So far, I have experienced the five stages of service-learning in my fellowship. I am now conscious on why I have decided to serve and why it is so relevant in my life!

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