Become a Global Citizen
Community-engaged learning provides students with opportunities to gain skills for success. This type of education has been crucial to my development personally and professionally. Now, I know how to see mistakes as opportunities to learn, face challenges effectively and appropriately, and give and receive constructive feedback. Beyond that, high-impact practices allowed me to become a global citizen that cares about the world.
At Juniata, I have taken two community-engaged learning classes. In IMA Lab I taught by Professor Ryan Gibboney, I was part of a team-based project to design and develop content for Huntingdon House, a local nonprofit that advocates and supports victims and survivors of domestic violence. During the semester, I was the content coordinator. I oversaw writing and verbiage for the community partner’s website, brochures, and other promotional materials. I interviewed with our client and wrote a press release about Huntingdon House’s rebranding that they posted on Facebook. If you want to read the story, check it out here at Making Huntingdon House a Home: Juniata Students Craft Brand for Advocacy Organization. Our team hoped to help Huntingdon House have an established recognizable brand in the community.
In Group Communication taught by Dr. Sarah Worley, we worked with the Huntingdon Community Center, a local nonprofit that provides structured educational, recreational, and social programming in a safe and inclusive environment for children. During the semester, I was a project co-leader who oversaw the group’s progress, maintained the organization and documentation of our work, and acted as a liaison to contact the community partner. Also, I was a member of the internship subcommittee that created and developed an internship position for the HCC. Our team’s goal was to provide market-based research, so that the HCC could make evidence-based decisions for their organization based on what we discovered. Through both of these experiences, I learned valuable lessons.
1. See Mistakes as Opportunities to Learn
Team-based environments were crucial for me to realize how I work within groups. I vocalized my opinions in a respectful manner and step up when I was needed; however, I learned that I did not have to do everything or make every single detail perfect. Mistakes happen, and I can learn from them with every project. By highlighting this, I like to remind people that mistakes are how we grow.
2. Face Challenges Effectively and Appropriately
Teamwork and client-work is challenging. At times, I struggled to collaborate with some team members, which mirrors real work scenarios. This taught me adaptability and flexibility to adjust to their work style. Beyond that, clients may not always know what they want or realize what they need. By working with them, I learned how to carry on conversations that get to the root of what they are looking for – and you can, too.
3. Give and Receive Constructive Feedback
Communication played a key role in my community partner experiences. I expressed myself and actively listened to our clients. By doing this, I was able to demonstrate and apply my knowledge through the projects and roles. As I worked with our clients, I discussed and analyzed collaboratively to take action and be outcome-oriented. I expressed empathy when I connected my own feelings, perspectives, and life experiences to my team and clients who have varying backgrounds, which demonstrates respect and compassion – two key components of effective and appropriate communication.
4. Participate in High-Impact Practices
High-impact educational practices (HIP’s) allow students to utilize active learning and engagement in projects to develop transferrable knowledge and skills. I think this integrative approach to education let me build connections outside of a formal classroom. I deepened how I understand my education and broaden my point of view.
5. Become a Global Citizen that Cares
I intend to continue finding ways to become involved in my community – wherever that may be in the future. My vision is to use my gifts of outreach, storytelling, and creativity to connect with people through communication, multimedia arts, and writing. Hopefully, my passion to develop a civic identity will keep me focused as I “think about who I am” in the years to come. Overall, community-engaged learning has changed how I see myself as a student and a community member. As a student, I want to continue to develop skills that focus on compassion, inclusion, and engagement. As a community member, I want to engage with others. As far as my career goes, I want to continue to work impact and advocate for people in various communities both personally and professionally. Due to my experience with community partners, I learned the importance of having an impact in the world and want to continue to do so; after reading this story, I hope you decide the same.