Service-​​learning shines at Northeastern

Freshman John Sirisuth discusses his service-learning experience at Thursday's Showcasing & Recognizing Spring 2012 Service-Learning Partnerships event at the Fenway Center. Photo by Kristie Gillooly

It’s easy for num­bers to tell Northeastern’s service-​​learning story: Over the last semester, some 430 stu­dents com­pleted nearly 13,000 hours of ser­vice for 52 community-​​based part­ners under the guid­ance of 19 fac­ulty mem­bers and 23 teaching assistants.

But another number stands out to freshman John Sirisuth: 30.

That’s how many pounds one woman, who was par­tic­i­pating in Northeastern’s Healthy Kids, Healthy Futurespro­gram, told him she had lost by taking Zumba classes. The pro­gram edu­cates fam­i­lies about the impor­tance of healthy eating and phys­ical activity.

“That’s what really made things real,” Sirisuth told stu­dents, fac­ulty and staff who gath­ered in the Fenway Center on Thursday morning for the Show­casing and Rec­og­nizing Spring 2012 Ser­vice Learning Part­ner­ships event.

Sirisuth, who took a service-​​learning class for unde­clared stu­dents called Con­nec­tions and Deci­sions, added, “It was great to make a real dif­fer­ence in the health of our community.”

Inte­grating com­mu­nity ser­vice into the cur­riculum strengthens and enhances class­room learning, noted Carlos Cruz, a Spanish lec­turer who teaches a service-​​learning class called Advanced Spanish Business.

“My stu­dents have an oppor­tu­nity to interact with the Spanish-​​speaking com­mu­nity while improving their lan­guage skills and under­standing of the cul­ture,” Cruz said.

Thursday’s service-​​learning event, held reg­u­larly at the end of fall and spring semes­ters, gives North­eastern stu­dents and fac­ulty mem­bers a chance to pause and reflect on the strong part­ner­ships they have built with com­mu­nity orga­ni­za­tions that work directly with Bostonians.

“I look out and I see our stu­dents and com­mu­nity part­ners that make this city a better place every day,” said John Tobin, a former Boston city coun­cilor and Northeastern’s vice pres­i­dent for City and Com­mu­nity Affairs. “I know that you know the sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges that so many in our city face every single day, and I know that you also are making their lives better.”

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This article was originally posted on Northeastern News. Read it here.