Wednesday, January 8, 2014
This last semester, Inver Hills Literature students  formed a connection with Lifeworks, a day program for adults with developmental disabilities, that transformed into a deeply meaningful partnership on both ends. The partnership started with literature students creating and performing a story-telling series for Lifeworks clients, moved into an interview of these clients about their lives, and culminated in the writing of a series of short pieces that represented the stories of Lifeworks’ clients. The theme for this Literature class was story-telling and oral history - specifically addressing how (and why) stories were passed down and whose stories were told. To reinforce those concepts and themes, students undertook the aforementioned, two-fold service-learning project with Lifeworks: drawing from a variety of literary forms, they designed a 1-hour story-telling for Lifeworks clients helping to share the literature with those for whom reading may not be possible; students then, after having these first get-to-know-you meetings, partnered with a Lifeworks client and worked one-on-one with that client to interview him/her about his/her daily life, capturing the experience as a story, which was written as their final projects for the course. These stories were compiled in a book, and were orally presented at an end-of-semester Story Slam at Lifeworks. 

We can tell you that this experience gave students an opportunity to participate in the story-telling and story-capturing experience, connecting them with the history of literature and providing them a venue to be creative while also affirming the significance of everyone’s story, but we thought it might be best for you to hear from them:

From Kayla Filipa -  “Being able to spend the semester getting to know the people at lifeworks was so inspiring. It truly made me realize how lucky I am to be able to communicate and speak up in a way that people will understand. Knowing and getting to know some of the disabilities that prevent people from being able to have a voice motivated me to use mine to help them speak up. I don’t want this motivation to stop with Lifeworks, though. I want to continue to help give people a chance to use their voices because after hearing what the people at Lifeworks had to say, I realized that these were the types of voices that could make a difference if people would just take the time to listen. I didn’t think that Lifeworks would impact me this way or give me this much to think about, but it did, and I’m truly honored to have been a part of such an amazing experience. The people at Lifeworks are truly beautiful and unique individuals.”
From Nunu Poe -  “My Lifeworks experience proves that literature is important for society.  I had a chance to hear a new voice from my interviewee. This new voice motivated me to create a story, delivered in two ways: presenting it in public and writing it on paper. Although people may forget my presentation, the story on paper can last longer. In the paper, I left a message for people who are going to marry and for people who might be parents.  I wish that whoever reads this story can learn [about the challenges] of families with disabled members.  Lifeworks serves people with disabilities in various forms.  If we do not have this kind of service in our community, we cannot hear new voices from people with developmental disabilities, and they will not learn from us as well. I am thankful for this experience.” 

This last semester, Inver Hills Literature students formed a connection with Lifeworks, a day program for adults with developmental disabilities, that transformed into a deeply meaningful partnership on both ends. The partnership started with literature students creating and performing a story-telling series for Lifeworks clients, moved into an interview of these clients about their lives, and culminated in the writing of a series of short pieces that represented the stories of Lifeworks’ clients. The theme for this Literature class was story-telling and oral history - specifically addressing how (and why) stories were passed down and whose stories were told. To reinforce those concepts and themes, students undertook the aforementioned, two-fold service-learning project with Lifeworks: drawing from a variety of literary forms, they designed a 1-hour story-telling for Lifeworks clients helping to share the literature with those for whom reading may not be possible; students then, after having these first get-to-know-you meetings, partnered with a Lifeworks client and worked one-on-one with that client to interview him/her about his/her daily life, capturing the experience as a story, which was written as their final projects for the course. These stories were compiled in a book, and were orally presented at an end-of-semester Story Slam at Lifeworks.

We can tell you that this experience gave students an opportunity to participate in the story-telling and story-capturing experience, connecting them with the history of literature and providing them a venue to be creative while also affirming the significance of everyone’s story, but we thought it might be best for you to hear from them:

From Kayla Filipa -
“Being able to spend the semester getting to know the people at lifeworks was so inspiring. It truly made me realize how lucky I am to be able to communicate and speak up in a way that people will understand. Knowing and getting to know some of the disabilities that prevent people from being able to have a voice motivated me to use mine to help them speak up. I don’t want this motivation to stop with Lifeworks, though. I want to continue to help give people a chance to use their voices because after hearing what the people at Lifeworks had to say, I realized that these were the types of voices that could make a difference if people would just take the time to listen. I didn’t think that Lifeworks would impact me this way or give me this much to think about, but it did, and I’m truly honored to have been a part of such an amazing experience. The people at Lifeworks are truly beautiful and unique individuals.”

From Nunu Poe -
“My Lifeworks experience proves that literature is important for society.  I had a chance to hear a new voice from my interviewee. This new voice motivated me to create a story, delivered in two ways: presenting it in public and writing it on paper. Although people may forget my presentation, the story on paper can last longer. In the paper, I left a message for people who are going to marry and for people who might be parents.  I wish that whoever reads this story can learn [about the challenges] of families with disabled members.  Lifeworks serves people with disabilities in various forms.  If we do not have this kind of service in our community, we cannot hear new voices from people with developmental disabilities, and they will not learn from us as well. I am thankful for this experience.” 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Meet the Staff: Shannon Staples

Shannon Staples is excited to learn about Service-Learning and take a class that incorporates Service-Learning as a class objective. She is very passionate about volunteering and giving back to the community with various non-profit organizations. Shannon is currently studying to get her A.S. in Contemporary Business, with a certificate in Small Business Development. Her goal is to open a small family-owned business (and hopefully to as successful as her father, aunt and uncles!). In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her fiance and large extended family members, playing frisbee golf, scrap booking, organizing (anything and everything), and going on nature walks with her fiance and dog.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Rosemount Career Day

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On Friday November 1st I was one of the many student leaders for the Rosemount High School College and Career Exploration Day at Inver Hills Community College. I arrived at 10:15 in preparation for the arrival of the Rosemount High School sophomores. My fellow student leaders and I went into the auditorium and waited for our group member. At about 10:30, 250 sophomores filed in to the Fine Arts Theater. I watched as they looked for their group color and number and separated into six different groups. I was one of the leaders of the Yellow group. Most of the other groups were led by students from a Public Speaking class; they would not only lead the groups, but had also prepared speeches to give the sophomores while taking them from station to station.        

Once the students were in their appropriate groups, the day started with a quick welcoming speech from Daniel Lawrence from the IHCC Outreach Department, who attended Rosemount High School himself, who then passed the microphone to Paula Brugge (Director of Outreach) and Katie Halcrow (Director of Service-Learning) who explained the logistics of the day.

After the welcoming speech, the sophomores went to different stations set up throughout the campus. My group started by attending the panel, where the sophomores could ask any questions about college or suggestions on how to prepare for it.  The panelist included a variety of people including both Inver hills students and faculty. Questions like, “What study habit should I build now?” or “Is it hard to have a relationship while in college?” were asked by the sophomores. I was fortunate enough to be one of the panel members and helped by sharing my experience as a first-year college student. After the panel was finished, we moved on to the next rotation: one of the career exploration stations.

There were two career exploration stations. One in the Fine Arts building, where the high school sophomores learned about different jobs in the criminal justice, business, education and paralegal fields. Students in these programs at Inver Hills had prepared presentations to explain the different careers – talking about the type of education or degree needed, what the job would look like on a daily basis, and what they could do in high school to prepare. They’d also come up with fun ways to engage the students, and I watched as the sophomores participated in the different activities, such as matching a crime with a punishment.

After the career exploration, it was time for lunch! The Rosemount students were treated to pizza and cookies, which they really seemed to like! There was so much food that the kids could go back and get seconds, even thirds!

After lunch, my group moved to the College 101 rotation, where the sophomores learned about how to choose a school, how to pay for school and how the difference and similarities of high school and college. The team from Outreach and Admissions did a great job making the presentation engaging. I believe the students got a feel of what to expect not only when they attend college but what the preparation period would be like during their senior year.

We then made our way to the other career exploration station in Heritage Hall, which showcased different careers in the medical field, engineering, mathematics, and biology. The sophomores listened to Inver Hills students explain different careers in medicine and showed that there is more to the medical field than just being a doctor or nurse. The students got to participate in different activities and even got to see one of the dummies the EMS students use to practice on! The students really seemed to enjoy the activities and asked the presenters many questions.

The Rosemount High school career day was an overall success. Many of the students said they learned something new and they felt like they had a better understanding of not only careers, but of college life as well.  I had a great time helping out with the event.  We in the Service-Learning department hope to do this event again in the spring. It was a great learning experience not only for the Rosemount sophomores, but for the Inver Hills students too!

About the Author: Anisa Ahmed is a first-year student at Inver Hills Community College and has a work-study position in the Service-Learning department.

Meet the Staff: Anisa Ahmed

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Anisa Ahmed graduated from Central High School in St Paul this past year and is now a full-time student at Inver Hills. Anisa hopes to transfer to a four-year university and get her bachelors in biology or nursing. She is interested in pursuing a career in medicine and hopes to become a pediatrician one day. Anisa is passionate about helping others through nonprofits and one day hopes to join the Peace Corps. After traveling the world and working in third-world countries as a pediatric specialist, she hopes to settle down and take it easy by opening her own hospital in Somalia. As she begins her quest to save the world, she is doing her first Service-Learning project this fall. One of her favorite past times is dancing, but only when no one is watching! Anisa comes from a very large family and is the oldest of eight. In her spare time, she loves to hang out with her siblings and read.

Meet the Staff: Muhammad Rashad

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Muhammad Rashad is an international student from Egypt who has been working for the Service-Learning department as a web developer for almost half a year! He is currently attending Inver Hills Community College to get his Accounting degree and plans to transfer to the Carlson School of Management to get his bachelor degree in Accounting and Finance. Muhammad’s dream is to become a CPA. He hopes to one day work in either Dubai or Egypt. In his free time, when he’s not riding the bus from Minneapolis to Inver Hills or studying for his classes, Muhammad likes to play, watch and live soccer. His favorite player is Lionel Messi from FC Barcelona. His other hobbies include ping pong and reading business articles…and putting on mustaches for Movember.

Meet the Staff: Russell Glenn

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Russell Glenn is originally from Seattle, which means his coffee addiction started early in life.  He moved to the Minneapolis area in 2008 to pursue a career in either marketing or engineering.  He started at Inver Hills Community College in the spring of 2013.  He is a math tutor and works for Katie Halcrow in the Service Learning department doing some pretty amazingly cool things.  Russell has a passion for helping others and doing various acts of service.  His dream job would be to hangout after winning the lottery, but if that doesn’t work out, it is to work as a sales manager who maintains business relationships with clients.  The younger of two children, Russell has an older brother in Los Angeles, California.  In his spare time, Russell enjoys doing activities with his church and friends.  He loves movies!  He would love to share his favorite quote from Braveheart, but it pertains to death. On a positive, cuddly note, he prefers to wear sweatshirts because it’s like walking around in a blanket.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Top Five Reasons You Should Take a Service Learning Class

1. You want a different and exciting way to learn.

By immersing yourself in a meaningful project that relates to what you’re learning in class, you’ll immediately see the practical applications of what you learned and are more likely to retain the knowledge.

2. You want to meet new people.

When I am put into a position where communication with peers is necessary to complete a goal, getting social becomes a whole lot easier. Service Learning puts you in an environment where it’s okay – nay, encouraged – to meet new people.

And let’s not forget to mention the benefits of forming relationships in college. These connections are good on so many levels, including (but not limited to) a frantic late night text asking “Is the midterm paper due tomorrow?!”, being referred for a new job, or simply being asked out for coffee.

3. As a student planning to transfer, you want to make yourself a more desirable college applicant.

College Application Tip #1: Your application should make you look as versatile and productive as possible.

Besides your grades, colleges love to see that you went above and beyond the call of action, and there’s no better way to show them than to do something to support your community! With Service Learning you can serve in your community and get college credit - at the same time. Talk about killing two birds with one stone!

4. You want to open yourself up to internship opportunities.

If you’re already thinking about career experience, getting your foot in the door with non-profits by doing Service Learning ensures that you’ll be among the first in line for any new internships the organization makes available – and you’ll also have a killer reference if you apply for an internship somewhere else. Remember: making yourself a potential candidate means you’ll have to work hard to show you’re worthwhile you’re doing your Service Learning, so no sleeping on the job!

5. You want to help your local community.

Part of the reason Service Learning works as a win-win-win for the school, for the community partner, and for you is that non-profits rely on volunteers to fulfill their mission and colleges want to engage their students. But it’s also a win because we – college students – want to help change our world for the better – and it just so happens that college students often make the best volunteers;  we’re energetic, forward-thinking, and offer unique solutions to problems.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

For students in need of food assistance, Inver Hills just got a little more welcoming.

Three weeks ago, the “Mobile Pantry” came to Inver Hills for the first time, marking the beginning of a partnership between the college and local non-profit Eagan & Lakeville Resource Centers. The idea is simple: assist low-income students by providing them with fresh, healthy food. Fruits, vegetables, meats (chicken, steak, and more), canned goods, and even raw foods like oats and nuts are all available through the Mobile Pantry, and thus far, over 60 Inver Hills students have been able to receive food support.

So how did this partnership between Eagan Resource Center and Inver Hills begin? Last November, Inver Hills administration gave the call-to-action for food-assistance at the college. Several models of food assistance – everything from a brick-and-mortar food shelf on campus to a bagged grocery drop-off to a lunch program – were discussed. Then, Service-Learning Director Katie Halcrow made a phone call to Eagan Resource Center.

“That’s when we found the perfect win-win-win connection,” Halcrow said, smiling.

Here’s what happened: Eagan & Lakeville Resource Centers told IHCC that they could bring their already successful Mobile Pantry to Inver Hills one day each week, supplying enough food to serve up to 18 students in just three hours. Everyone was thrilled. ELRC handles all logistics and food collection for the college while Inver Hills seeks out students who could benefit from a healthy meal so that they can focus on completing their degrees. Counselors at IHCC do intake appointments and then schedule students for one of the slots during the three hours the Mobile Pantry is on campus each Wednesday.

Since February 20th of this year, the Mobile Pantry has given 2,100 pounds of food total to over 60 students here at Inver Hills.

From the Service Learning department, we’d just like to say a HUGE “Thank You!” to the Eagan Resource Center for bringing us such a wonderful program; and to the students, who work so hard to be successful in college: stay well-nourished – it will keep you on top of your game!

To learn more about how you can receive free food assistance as a student at Inver Hills Community College, please follow the link: http://tinyurl.com/actdr66

 

A student was kind enough to snap a photo of all the food she received from the Mobile Pantry.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Congratulations to Neighbors, Inc. on their 40th Anniversary, and a big Thank You to the Service Learning class that made an impact in the Organization!

            Students from one of Professor Laura Funke’s English courses were presented with an amazing Service Learning opportunity last Fall: to assist Neighbors, Inc. in documenting stories of the long-term volunteers in honor of the organization’s fortieth anniversary. The students were given the task of interviewing volunteers to learn about the positive ways Neighbors, Inc. has impacted the community over the last 40 years.

            As background, Neighbors Inc.’s core mission is to strive to reduce poverty, promote self-sufficiency, and build community. Among their many services, they offer food support and a clothing closet to those in need.

            Here’s an article one of Laura Funke’s student-groups wrote on one of the founding volunteers Virginia Milbert:

In 1972 Virginia Milbert was in for a big surprise when she was dragged to a meeting held by the local church in response to the unemployment crisis.  Little did she know she would become a stellar volunteer for the next forty years at the local church that has become known today as Neighbors!

Neighbors was established in 1972 when local church groups were asked to donate food and come together to help the northern Dakota County community; when they started, it was simply a group of people volunteering in the basement of a shoe repair shop.

“I want my own shoes,” Virginia remembers a three year old little boy saying.  The father wanted to soothe the young boy and mentioned he could wear his brother’s old shoes or even stuff the tip of the size four shoes with some old newspaper. The little boy mumbled through the tears “I don’t want those shoes. I want cowboy boots.”  As Virginia watched from the sidelines she wanted to help, but knew there was a very small chance the Clothes Closet had a pair of size three cowboy boots in the back.  Virginia motioned to the overwhelmed father with the baby in his arms and two young boys ransacking around the store that she would go in to the crammed back room.  She was on a mission to sort through the large crate of mismatched shoes.  To her surprise there was an exact pair of size three cowboy boots waiting for the little boy.  She brought them out to the frustrated little boy whose face expressed pure joy.  Experiences like this are why Virginia has continued volunteering passionately for Neighbors Inc. for the last forty years. 

“Virginia is like a bright ray of sunshine pushing through on a cloudy day,” Joan, a lifelong friend and mentor said. “She is the most optimistic person I know. When she arrives at the Clothes Closet she always has a joke or funny story to tell us to start the day off right. We are privileged to have one of the founders of Neighbors Inc. still volunteering after so many years and giving back to a much needed community.”

Virginia continues volunteering at least ten hours a week.  She has learned to master patience and understanding because there really never is one person that she encounters with the same story. 

Once, an apprehensive older gentleman was invited to family wedding, but had nothing to wear.  Upon his arrival at the clothes closet, he explained his situation to Virginia who was up for the challenge.  She went to work searching through the multiple racks of clothes and found the picture-perfect suit with matching shoes.  He reluctantly proceeded to the dressing room, but when he came out he had a smile that would light up the world and said, “I feel like a million bucks!”  She could feel the warmth build up in her heart as she yet again conquered the many challenges of the people she encountered. 

The Clothes Closet currently provides donated clothes at little to no cost with the use of a voucher system.  Over the years, Neighbors Inc. has grown in space, environment, and with volunteers providing up to 54,000 units of service, 356,000 pounds of food, and 27,000 plus hours of service. Despite recently moving to a new space in South St. Paul, Neighbors is already experiencing some growing pains.

“We need more space!” Virginia shared. 

There are great quantities of clothing being donated daily, but some are too outdated or left with holes and stains.  Once in a while, the Clothes Closet gets lucky and receives a very good quality product.

Why does she do all this work? “That’s my charity, that’s my big charity.” 

Virginia is known as a philanthropist not just at Neighbors Inc., but around the community.  She spends her time helping to hold rummage sales at her local church along with knitting American Girl and Barbie clothing to raise money to donate back into her community. 

So, what keeps her going? “I keep on my feet and always stay busy; it is the secret to life,” she stated. 

She has grown to love everyone at Neighbors Inc. and has made many long-lasting relationships. Virginia lives her life with an ear-to-ear smile and a heart filled passion that brings joy to everyone that crosses her path.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Geology Class ROCKS Their Service Learning Project!

Whenever we can, we like to hear from the students who participate in Service Learning to see how their experiences went. For this project, students in Professor Wood’s class taught elementary children important lessons about the Water Cycle, Water Table and Groundwater pollution in a rewarding collaboration with Garlough Environmental Magnet School. Our students presented material they learned in their Geology classroom, both honing their public speaking skills and improving retention of class material, while simultaneously becoming more involved in the community. Here’s what student Nicole Rossi had to say about her experience:


When first approached with the opportunity to be a part of a Service Learning project in my Geology class, I was a bit apprehensive. I knew the project involved a presentation about groundwater, the water table and the water cycle for 4th graders at Garlough Environmental Magnet School, but I wasn’t sure how I would do with a group, or how the children would react to us. Eventually, I relented and accepted the chance, hoping that it would be a good opportunity for me to see how well I knew the material. Plus, I knew the project would expose me to a new opportunity in public speaking.


The day of our presentations was very fun.  My group came together before our presentation to set up the model, which represented the water table. We went over how we wanted to present the information and how we would transition from one topic to another. We each chose one of the four topics that we were teaching to the class (the water cycle, groundwater, the water table, and pollution), so each of us got to take on a leadership role. This way, everyone would have a chance to speak to the class and mix it up a bit! The thing I loved most about my group was everyone’s willingness to help each other out no matter whose turn it was in the presentation. This support took away a lot of the pressure and nervousness that I felt. I knew that if I got stuck, I would have someone up there with me who could help me through and make the presentation look seamless.


The kids in the classes that we taught really seemed to enjoy the activity we facilitated involving the water cycle and looking at the ground water model. It was really surprising to see how much they already knew and to hear all of the great questions they had for us. It really made me think on my feet about what I had already learned in my Geology class. The experience pushed me to come up with examples that the kids could better understand. I think that our discussion about the water cycle and presentation of the ground water model reaffirmed what we, as a class, had already learned in our course and opened us up to explore the topic further.

by Nicole Rossi

Thanks Nicole!