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Community Engagement & Service

Community-Based Learning Highlights

Read the stories of current and past Community-Based Learning students.

Elizabeth Defreest

CSLP Student Spring 2013

Site: Martha's Table
Course: Called to Serve: Writing for Community Engagement
Professor: Amanda Choutka

Elizabeth is working with Martha's Table, a community organization dedicated to transforming "lives by engaging the community in developing sustainable solutions to poverty." While the organization offers may programs ranging from a day care center to a thrift store, Elizabeth has found her home with McKenna's Wagon, a mobile food program.

"I have been fortunate enough to have learned the faces of those who every night depend on the parks for rest and the wagon for their dinner."

 Elizabeth has chosen to connect her service work with a course entitled, Called to Serve: Writing for Community Engagement. It closely examines the implications one holds about service work. Through reflection, Elizabeth notes that "our perceptions of homelessness today are most closely followed by assumptions, often associated with addiction, laziness, craziness, or sickness. These assumptions are at times relevant in part, but have marred the way we understand this complex issue."

In her second semester of CSLP, Elizabeth continues to "learn something new every volunteering hour."  

Nicholas Dellasanta

CSLP Student Spring 2013

Site: The National Institutes of Health
Course: Bioethics
Professor: Assya Pascalev

The goal of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is to "uncover new knowledge that will lead to better health for everyone." 

Nick has been volunteering at the NIH clinical center since January working primarily in an outpatient clinic where a number of studies by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute are performed.  

Nick connected his CSLP with his Bioethics course taught by Dr. Assya Pascalev. The course offers a perspective on the deontological and utilitarian approaches to various professions in the biomedical field. Class discussions focus on moral dilemmas that may arise in the healthcare system.

"I have learned a tremendous amount this semester at the NIH. The staff, especially the nurses, are always sharing information on the procedures and practices being performed in the clinic. I have also learned about the administrative side of the clinic, arranging charts and assisting patients by assuring that they are comfortable and in the proper locations for their appointments."

Ariel Neumann

CSLP Student Spring 2013

Ariel Neumann
Site: Green America's Green Business Network
Course: Environment and Development
Professor: Eve Bratman

Ariel NeumannAriel is volunteering with Green America's Green Business Network (GBN), an organization committed to linking green businesses to the growing marketplace of values-driven consumers.

At GBN Ariel has been researching companies with the goal of identifying strong corporations to partner with in order to promote sustainable and green business practices and the production of environmentally conscious goods.

As Ariel's course focuses on different approaches to environmental development, she clearly recognizes connections to her work with GBN. "We have spent a lot of time discussing whether environmentally friendly goods and sustainable business practices are the keys to environmentalism and if each of us as individuals views a consumer based approach to environmental development or if we see other options as more viable. The course allows for us to look at all perspectives and really has us think about what we believe is the definition of environmental development."

Ariel's supervisor describes her work as "invaluable" and shared that she was an essential component in an upcoming expansion of green business outreach efforts.

Sarah Peterson

CSLP Student Fall 2012

Sarah Peterson CSLP Student

Site: GALA Hispanic Theatre

Course: Spanish Conversation and Composition I

Professor: Lilian Baeza-Mendoza



Sarah is working with the GALA Hispanic Theatre, a nonprofit organization that works to preserve the rich Latino heritage through performing arts.

Sarah has made significant contributions within the marketing department working with the production manager to increase efficiency. She's also had the opportunity to work in the theater as an usher. She has found substantial connections to her Spanish Conversation and Composition course as almost everyone in the office is bilingual and Spanish is the main language used.

"Not only have I been working on my Spanish, but this opportunity has taught me the importance of the arts in all different cultures. The Latino culture I have been exposed to is fascinating and something I will continue to explore in my pursuit of a Spanish Minor at AU."

Anna Sutton

CSLP Student Fall 2012

at Women for Women international

Site: Women for Women International

Course: World Politics

Professor: Dylan Craig

Anna is working with Women for Women International, a nonprofit that provides female survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts with the tools and resources necessary to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency, thereby promoting viable civil societies. 

Anna is primarily assisting the organization with administrative tasks in which she has the opportunity to make connections between the US and other nations. As a World Politics student, she comments that her work “really makes me realize that these countries mentioned in our case studies don't stop mattering just because a new tragedy has struck. There are still real people who need help left behind." 

In seeing the substantial need of the organization, Anna organized an opportunity for her peers in the Global Scholars program to visit the organization and assist in a letter reading and the communication between participants in the Women for Women International program.  

During Anna's experience with Women for Women International the biggest lesson she has learned is the impact that teaching a woman can have. She mentions that, "These women enter a program for one year, and after they graduate their lives aren't the only ones benefited." Their daughters and sons are now more likely to have a stable education. They will go on to help their neighbors and their communities. They will stand up for the rights of women in their countries

Tyler Steinhardt

CSLP Student Fall 2012

Tyler Steinhardt CSLP Student

Site: Fields of Growth, an organization in rural Uganda that aims to harness the passion of the lacrosse community into positive social impact.

Course: World Politics

Professor: Dylan Craig

Tyler is currently working on the HOPEFUL Dreams campaign which is composed of a school for 250 orphans, a women's empowerment program, a self-sustaining economic project, and a children's choir. While in the US, Tyler is using his knowledge of the organization and editing skills to edit and upgrade their website. 

Tyler is attaching the CSLP credit to his World Politics course and is quick to identify the connection as two-fold "first in its international development connection and how Fields of Growth is helping provide vital opportunities to the Ugandan people. But I also see what I'm doing as a micro-level international relations. I think every day I correspond with my friends in Uganda, I help build and strengthen the bridge between Ugandan-American relations, even if it's just the perception of a few people from each country."

During Tyler's experience with Fields of Growth the biggest lesson he has learned is to "smile and dream." Tyler is moved by the passion and commitment of those he works with in Uganda, their commitment to an improved future for their children and their ability to put those dreams into action. "I try my best to embody what I learned in Uganda, and I hope I express a tenth of the passion and happiness they have."

Yan Li

CSLP Student Spring 2012

Tai Chi lessons at Iona Senior Center

SiteVida Senior Center, located in Adam's Morgan, works to assist the District's Latino community in overcoming cultural, economic and social barriers. 

Course: The Latino Community in the DC Metropolitan Area

Professor: Marcy Fink Campos

Yan was invited by the Center to teach Chinese exercises to Latino seniors. After consulting with the on-site doctor, Yan began an 8-week TaiChi class. From a small group, Yan's inspired teaching grew the class to over 30 seniors. 

"At the beginning, I just saw the differences between the Latino seniors and myself" Yan said. She found it difficult to navigate the different cultural, linguistic and historic backgrounds. Yet through her class she learned that "we shouldn't only focus on our differences, instead we should find our common things. It sounds simple, but it helps a lot!"

Adrienne Toumayan

CSLP Student Fall 2011

Adrienne Toumayan f11 cslp

Site: DC Stop Modern Slavery, using grassroots activism to end slavery.

Course: Education for International Development

Professor: Dr. Illana Lancaster

Adrienne worked as the campus liaison with DC Stop Modern Slavery to raise awareness on campus about the issue of trafficking through presentations and film viewings, and to organize students to participate in the annual walk on the National Mall.  

Adrienne is highly interested in educational outreach and in sharing a message in a way to make others care. She sees "education as prevention."

One of the best educational tools Adrienne utilized was a film screening which showed "undercover footage of K St., showing how real these issues are right here in DC...People are being exploited right on this street" she shared. 

Adrienne mentioned that collaborations with current and previous professors were helpful to her project. "It was great to have be able to talk through these issues with people who truly cared."

Ryan Prendergast

CSLP Student Fall 2011

Ryan Prendergast f11 CSLP

Site:The Next Step Public Charter School, a bilingual school in Columbia Heights. 

Course: Spanish Translation

Professor: Dr. Brenda Werth

Ryan is working as a math tutor assisting those working toward their GED. Additionally, Ryan has worked with his supervisor to arrange a day on campus for the students with which he works.

"The most important thing I have learned is that patience is the key to success." 

This is true both for Ryan as a tutor and for his learners working toward their GED.  

He also comments that his professor, Dr. Werth, has had a tremendous impact on his learning through frequent check-ins and actively encouraging him to expand and broaden his learning.

Rachel Birnbaum

CSLP Student Fall 2011

Rachel Birnbaum f11 CSLP

Site: The Barker Foundation, a non-profit adoption agency in Bethesda, Md.

Course: Social Policy

Professor: Dr. Vidal-Ortiz

Rachel is working with in the international adoption department. Her work is directly connected to her Social Policy course through her analysis of the laws surrounding adoption. Specifically laws pertaining to who is allowed to adopt, gay couples and international barriers.

"The most significant thing i have learned is the way that adoption works; I have gotten a glimpse of the ins and outs of the adoption world which is very important to me because i want to work in the adoption field later in life."

The Community Service-Learning Program

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Inspired by your classmates? Interested in doing a similar project with the community? See if the Community Service-Learning Program is right for you.

Learn More

Community-Based Learning Courses

Interested in connecting community work with one of your classes? Check out this list of community-based learning courses. In each class listed students are expected to complete a project with a community organization or perform a certain number of direct service hours.

List of classes

Kristen Shannon

CSLP Student Spring 2013

Kristen Shannon

Site: The Next Step Public Charter School
Course: Spanish Conversation and Composition II
Professor: Juliana Martinez

Kristen is volunteering with the Next Step Public Charter School in Columbia Heights. The school works to provide students "who face extraordinary challenges and who are not supported in traditional high schools the opportunity to continue their education."

While at Next Step, Kristen works with ESL students to support them with their English language learning. She finds that this work has also improved her own English and Spanish. "I love helping out whenever possible, there is never a dull moment at Next Step and I am always helping out in different classes."  

Kristen has also been able to connect with one of the Next Step teachers who is a 2011 AU graduate. This teacher was initially connected with the Next Step through CSLP!