Friday, October 7, 2016

Who We Are Together. Extending Service Learning in an Undergraduate Course @FairfieldU. @akbar_offishio #Special

“Bryan, I’m not used to seeing my kids smile. They come in and have stone faces. They need to be hard as a rock to survive in this school. They do not enjoy learning here. Yet look at them. They stayed after school. These kids came back. They want to achieve. They’re here at 4:30. And they’re smiling. They’re laughing. I’m seeing their teeth. This is amazing. These kids are talking and it means the world to me that so many of them are getting ears that are listening to them.” - Mr. King

Yesterday, I brought a group of undergraduate students to work with young people from Ubuntu Academy during their regular school year. Most of the kids are in beginning ESL and, yet, several alumni of the academy heard we were coming and stayed after school, too. They knew I'd bring pizza (after all, I said I'd reinvest the President's Innovation Award into the world to pay it forward). 

Seriously, I wrote my undergraduates and said, "This is everything we're reading in all these fancy books I'm assigning you. What these scholars are writing about, we're making happen. We are working in the community to put scholarship in action and to authenticate all the academic inequities we read about. Better yet, we are investing in each other. 

A human being is made a human being through being with other human beings. 

As I was leaving, one of the Ubuntu students ran up to me to share a poem he and my Fairfield University undergraduate co-wrote together from our first night of exploring educational philosophies as a team. I post it here because this summarizes everything. Akbar's only been in the country for a year and yet he's co-writing poetry with Julia! (And this wasn't assigned. They simply made this happen).

A Place We Make Our Own
by Akbar R. Niyonkaru (Bassick High School) and Julia Cascio (Fairfield University)
October 6, 2016.

It is a good time
             not for me (only)  
    but for who we are (together)

learning what she likes
             learning what I like, too.

We are different.
             We are compatible.
             But whole.
We share a smile.
             A symbol of happiness.

             It can be anywhere.
A place we make our own.
             The noise within.
Where we find comfort.
             Where we find strength.

      Where we find love.

The world.
             Time is short.
But it is beautiful.
             And our days shine extraordinary.

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