This summer, international students in the English Language Institute (ELI) at the University of Houston-Downtown participated in a service-learning project.
One student group packed meals for pre-school children at Kids’ Meals. Another designed greeting cards for Meals on Wheels and refugee clients to recognize special celebrations at Interfaith Ministries. The third group made welcome baskets filled with toiletries and clothes at S.E.A.R.C.H. And the fourth group helped feed more than 200 of Houston’s homeless at Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen.
After volunteering for three hours through the various non-profit organizations, students returned to campus to create a fundraising campaign and participate in a competition to aid Houston’s homeless. In groups, students prepared a gr
ant proposal presentation. In a class simulation, each group met with a donor to request grant money for their campaign. The winning campaign ‘won’ the grant.
Participation in this service learning activity empowered students to learn in a real-world setting, to contribute to society and to reflect and build critical-thinking skills.
“Our students want to give back,” explained Marquette Dansby, ELI Coordinator. “Giving them the opportunity to participate as a group leaves a long-lasting impact that will change how they view the world around them for the rest of their lives.
One student, Alba Guzman added, “It’s impossible not to feel good when you do good for others. It was an unforgettable experience.”