When registering for classes for next year, you may have been told about Ignatian Service Learning, or ISL class options by your counselor. Service Learning classes, which are new in the past few years, may seem a little out of your comfort zone, but I would encourage you to give them a try. You might end up really enjoying the experience. I certainly have enjoyed mine.
Service learning, no matter what class you do it for, can open you up to so many new possibilities and perspectives, and it can also be extremely rewarding. I think service learning is an extremely beneficial experience, especially after deciding to take Service Learning American Literature: Hidden Voices this year.
This year in my service learning class, we have explored many topics that can be directly applied to the real world such as socioeconomic status, race, war and immigration, and activism. While these topics are controversial and at times hard to talk about, learning about these topics has been greatly beneficial and has really broadened and grown my view of the world and other people, as well as inspired me to get more involved in school and outside of it.
In service learning classes, you learn to look at literature through a real world lens, rather than just learning about characterization and grammar. You still read books and write papers, but all of the normal “English class stuff” learned through the lens of and applied to these topics.
Service Learning is at the honors level and requires seven service visits through ISL/Arrupe per semester, but you shouldn’t let that scare you. I have not found the American Lit course harder than my freshman year English class, in fact it sometimes even seems easier because everything you learn is applied to real world, understandable, topics.
The service component isn’t a hassle either, as you can spread your service out throughout the semester to coordinate with the weeks you are free. There are also a multitude of sites to choose from, including sites you can go to during the weekend, and speaker visits during lunch that you can use in place of missed service visits.
Even if you are a busy person, the service is not hard to complete, and often times it is enjoyable too. I play two high school and club sports, but I haven’t found it difficult to complete my service requirement, and no one else in my class has either. The service can be fun too, as you can pick your site based on what you like and you can also sign up with friends.
I volunteer at a soup kitchen, and I really enjoy it because I love the sense of community there and it is fun to interact with the people at my site. I have found service learning immensely beneficial, and plan on taking another service learning course during my time at Loyola.
Service learning is a unique course and part of an education you can’t get anywhere else, and I don’t think anyone who has given it a try regrets it. If you’re on the fence with service learning, I would recommend that you decide to go all in during your time at Loyola take the leap. The positives are certainly far greater than any possible negatives, and it is a great opportunity that you will likely not get anywhere else.