Nora Meighan, Anthropology, Class of 2014
The fall term of my freshman year I took a service-learning course with Cyndi Rickards. We spent three hours a week volunteering at a resource center in West Philadelphia, LIFT, and an hour and a half a week in class learning about sociology and discussing and reflecting on our volunteer work. I am now on summer break going into my sophomore year, but I still volunteer at LIFT every week. As an anthropology major, I gained a great deal of real research experience and learned a great deal about core sociological concepts. Without my experiences at LIFT I am sure it would have been harder for me to understand the things we learned in class. The elements found in a service-learning course taught me about the background of the issues I was working with. While volunteering I was able to see the impact I can make on my community and had the opportunity to interact with people whom I would never normally be able to talk to. Through these incredible interactions I learned the importance of a symbiotic relationship. As much as I have been helping those in need, they have been helping me. Their knowledge and experience has taught me so much and has made me grow immensely. As a student and community member of Philadelphia, I learned so much from the people I was able to work with, my neighbors.
Peter Knepper, Anthropology, Class of 2011
The opportunities offered in service learning at Drexel were the most rewarding and significant aspects of my education. They enabled me to get involved with the surrounding community of West Philadelphia and opened my eyes to the hardships that inner-city individuals experience, but they also offered the chance to undertake a more robust social science project that utilized my ethnographic skills. Doing this kind of research made me more excited about anthropological work and gave me a sense of being involved in the discipline. As a result of all of these factors, I will never forget how lucky I am to have had the opportunity to take part in this work.
I think that all students should be encouraged to do something like this, especially anyone in the humanities, because it will connect the issues and topics one learns in class to the real world, or, in this case, the surrounding area of West Philadelphia. The experiences of service learning are incomparable to the traditional educational setting and methods. The people you meet are unforgettable and their struggles will leave lasting impressions on your view of society and its institutions. I highly recommend this unique opportunity, and I hope more students take advantage of it.