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COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

 

My love of volunteer work began by chance when I tagged-along with friend who was volunteering on the food line at a local homeless shelter. After that serendipitous experience I made volunteer work a regular occurrence. I continued volunteering with the homless shelter, cooking and serving meals, every Saturday and Sunday for the next 2 years. Since that time I have volunteered with a variety of non-profit agencies. I have also engaged in fundraising, pro-bono work, program design, and have taught community engaged learning courses. Details on some of these experiences are detailed below.

 

Volunteer Experience

Refugee Organizations

Somali Community Self-Management Agency

As a volunteer English tutor for the beginning English classes I help teach a group pre-literate Somali women to read, write, and speak English. Because most ESL courses teach non-native speakers from many different countries, there are very few resources available for teaching English to Somali students who are not literate in their native language. After researching different techniques for teaching beginning reading and writing I developed a set of posters, flip-charts and worksheets for use with this class. The inclusion of Somali words and cultural artifacts has greatly improved the ability of the students in this group to memorize the alphabet, read simple words in both English and Somali, and sound out simple words in English.

Somali-ESL Resources:

  • English Alphabet with Somali Word Examples and English Translations coming soon.
  • English Alphabet with English Word Examples and Somali Translations coming soon.

 

Refugee and Immigrant Center at the Asian Association of Utah (RIC-AAU)

My role as a volunteer for the RIC-AAU involves cleaning and analyzing data for two programs: the employment program and the Dare to Be You refugee parenting classes. Previous analyses of the employment data had been conducted based on the agency's monthly reports to the state and federal funding organizations, however, these reports lacked data on many key factors that contribute to employment, such as education level and English speaking ability. I added these and other factors to the monthly report data and conducted multivariate analyses of the program. The reports I provide based on this analysis have been used by the agency in their reporting to government funders and in their applications for new grants.

RIC-AAU Website: aau-slc.org

 

International Rescue Committee, Salt Lake City (IRC)

As a volunteer for the IRC I assisted in the delivery of furniture and home goods to recently arrived refugees. I was surprised to learn that there is no shortage of furniture and larger items donated to the agency, but few donors think to give simple necessities like plates and bowls. After completing my term as a volunteer I organized an event with local ceramic artists to make and donate hand-made ceramic plates and bowls.

IRC Website: rescue.org

 

Poverty and Homelessness Organizations

Salt Lake Burrito Project

The Burrito Project is a multi-state project to feed the homeless "one burrito at a time." Rico Brand, a local purveyor of Mexican food, donates burritos for the Salt Lake Burrito Project. Volunteers roll as many as 500 burritos each delivery day. A second set of volunteers cycles around downtown Salt Lake offering burritos to the members of the homeless community. As a volunteer I participated both in rolling burritos and in delivering them to the homeless community.

Burrito Project SLC Website: burritoprojectslc.webs.com/

Burrito Project Website: burritoproject.org/

 

Project Wezesha

Project Wezesha is a small non-profit organization that raises funds to build schools in Tanzania and provide scholarships for girl's education. Annual fund-raisers in Salt Lake involved live music, food and drink, silent auctions, and raffles. As a volunteer I designed posters, flyers, and other marketing materials for local fund-raising events.

Project Wezesha Website: www.projectwezesha.org

Project Wezesha on Facebook: facebook.com/ProjectWezesha

 

Food & Care Coalition

The Food and Care Coalition provides meals and services to the extreme poor and homeless in Utah County. I volunteered with this organization for two years, assisting with cooking and serving weekend meals. I also assembled food and toiletry donation bags for needy families.

Food & Care Coalition Website: foodandcare.org

 

Global Health Organizations

University of Utah and the Interethnic Health Alliance

The 2011 Uganda Global Health program comprised service projects in several rural Ugandan communities. Projects were chosen based on the results of a needs assessment conducted the previous year. The projects included a micro-loan project, a fuel efficient stove project, a project involving making bricks for the expansion of a rural school, a feminine hygiene project, a solar project, and a water testing project. Program participants also designed and conducted needs assessments that would be used to help plan 2012's projects.

University of Utah Global Health Website: medicine.utah.edu/alumni/global_health.php
Interethnic Health Alliance Website: interethnichealthalliance.org

Service Project and Needs Assessment:

  • Presentation Describing the Projects and Results (PDF)
  • Needs Assessment Tool (PDF)

 

Community Engaged Learning

Community engaged learning is a method of teaching where students, faculty and community partners collaborate to apply knowledge in a way that both addresses community needs and meets instructional objectives. It can be undertaken through service, democratic engagement, or community research.

My first encounter with community engaged learning was as a student in an undergraduate sociology course at the University of Utah. It was my first exposure to instruction that used a service experience to integrate classroom learning and practical application. It was also my introduction to the Salt Lake refugee community. This experience planted a seed that grew to involve additional volunteer work, refugee research, and eventually, my dissertation research. It also motivated me to incorporate community engaged learning practices into my teaching.

Community Engaged Learning in the Courses I Teach:

Applied Final Project: Service Experience and Paper

Students engage in 15 hours of volunteer work with a local non-profit organization whose purpose relates to a topic, issue, or problem we cover in the course. At the end of the semester students write a research paper relating relating their experience to sociological theories and research about the relevant social problem.

Project Components:

  1. Agency and Topic Selection and Approval by Instructor

  2. Short Paper About the Agency that Describes:
    • The organization and its mission
    • The division/department of the organization with which you will be working
    • Your volunteer role and tasks
    • The type of training you received
    • Interesting experiences and early insights

  3. Documentation of volunteer hours signed by volunteer's supervisor

  4. Short Reflection Paper that includes:
    • A description of your volunteer experience.
    • A brief (1 to 2 sentence) discussion of the social problem that relates to your experience.
    • A discussion of anything that you found surprising about your experience?
    • A description of the most memorable or most meaningful part of the experience?

  5. Service Learning Research Paper

Final Project: Service Experience, Agency Interviews, and Research Paper

Students engage in 10 hours of volunteer work with a local non-profit organization whose purpose relates to a topic or issue we cover in the course. Students will interview a representative from their organization and a representative from a second organization that works on the same issue. At the end of the semester students write a research paper relating their volunteer experience and agency interviews to sociological theories and research about the issue.

Project Components:

  1. Agency and Topic Selection and Approval by Instructor

  2. Short Paper About the Agency that Describes:
    • The organization and its mission
    • The division/department of the organization with which you will be working
    • Your volunteer role and tasks
    • The type of training you received

  3. Interview Question Approval by Instructor

  4. Agency Comparison Paper that:

    • Summarizes both agency interviews
    • Compares and contrasts the two agencies' mission statements and philosophies
    • Compares and contrasts the two agencies' structure, size, and public visibility (via advertisements, social networks, sponsored events, etc.)
    • Compares and contrasts the two agencies' approaches to the issue

  5. Documentation of volunteer hours signed by volunteer's supervisor

  6. Short Reflection Paper that:
    • A description of your volunteer experience.
    • A brief (1 to 2 sentence) discussion of the issue/topic that relates to your experience.
    • A discussion of anything that you found surprising about your experience?
    • A description of the most memorable or most meaningful part of the experience?

  7. Service Learning Research Paper

Final Project: Service Project Design and Research Paper

Students will choose an issue related to topics we cover in the course and then design and carry out a service project related to that issue. At the end of the semester students write a research paper relating relating their service project to sociological theories and research about the issue.

Project Components:

  1. Issue Selection and Rough Project Proposal

  2. Community/Global Partner Selection and Interview

    • The interview will allow the student to align their project design with agency needs
    • It can also be used establish the role of the agency and their level of involvement.

  3. Detailed Project Proposal

  4. Plan for Evaluating Project Success

  5. One-Page Project Summary

    • To be written upon completion of the project

  6. Evaluation of Completed Project and Evaluation Report

  7. Service Project Journal

  8. Final Project Paper

 

© Yvette Young. All Rights Reserved. Version Date 2016.