As part of a service-​​learning course, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity stu­dent Kristen Cook taught a 7-​​year-​​old with spe­cial needs how to do subtraction—in Spanish.

I can’t tell you how proud I was of myself and the child,” Cook told stu­dents, fac­ulty mem­bers and com­mu­nity part­ners who attended a year-​​end service-​​learning cel­e­bra­tion last week in the Curry Stu­dent Center Ballroom.

Service-​​learning at North­eastern is a form of expe­ri­en­tial learning that links aca­d­emic courses to community-​​based orga­ni­za­tions. Stu­dents engage in hands-​​on ser­vice roles and projects, applying con­cepts they learn in the class­room to address com­mu­nity needs. It’s facil­i­tated through Northeastern’s Center of Com­mu­nity Ser­vice, which acts as a clear­ing­house for ser­vice oppor­tu­ni­ties through part­ner­ships with more than 225 community-​​based agen­cies and programs.

Cook, a junior who worked with chil­dren at the Curley K-​​8 School, in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neigh­bor­hood, was among some 439 North­eastern stu­dents enrolled in 27 service-​​learning courses over the fall semester. During that span, stu­dents teamed up with 70 community-​​based part­ners in the Rox­bury, Mis­sion Hill, South End and Fenway neigh­bor­hoods, as well as sub­urban schools, to com­plete 13,170 hours of ser­vice as trans­la­tors, tutors, researchers, health edu­ca­tors and exer­cise instructors.

Mem­bers of the North­eastern com­mu­nity praised the service-​​learning pro­gram for trans­forming lives—in the class­room, in the com­mu­nity and around the globe.

Stu­dents in Elise Dallimore’s orga­ni­za­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tion training and devel­op­ment service-​​learning course are par­tic­u­larly active in the community.

One group of stu­dents worked with Health Resources in Action, a public health and med­ical research orga­ni­za­tion, in Boston, to create an anti-​​bullying training pro­gram for high-​​school girls. Another group trained adult men­tors who run the Sci­ence Club for Girls, an after-​​school pro­gram, in Cam­bridge, which encour­ages young women to pursue studies in sci­ence, tech­nology, engi­neering and math.

Stu­dents doing service-​​learning believe they can change the world,” said Dal­limore, an asso­ciate pro­fessor of com­mu­ni­ca­tion studies who’s taught four service-​​learning courses since 2001. “They learn that there are more impor­tant things than their job title or how much money they make. It’s about becoming a better person.”

Northeastern’s loca­tion makes it the ideal com­mu­nity partner, said John Tobin, vice pres­i­dent for city and com­mu­nity affairs. “North­eastern is a global uni­ver­sity with deep con­nec­tions within the city,” he said. “Our stu­dents are going into these neigh­bor­hoods and touching people’s lives in mean­ingful ways.”

Senior health sci­ences major Kate Ostrander has served as a service-​​learning teaching assis­tant in four classes over the past two years. She said the expe­ri­en­tial learning oppor­tu­nity improved her aca­d­emic per­for­mance, increased her aware­ness of the com­mu­nity and led to co-​​ops and vol­un­teer positions.

Service-​​learning helped me expe­ri­ence the rich­ness that the North­eastern and greater Boston com­mu­nity has to offer,” she said. “I learned that there’s more to a person’s health than his vital signs.”