Event Title

Community Service as Reciprocity in France

Start Date

9-8-2010 10:30 AM

End Date

9-8-2010 12:00 PM

Description

As part of the reciprocity panel, the presentation aims to focus on the French program newly developed Community Service project element of its curriculum. Starting in the Spring of 2010, this seminar has replaced the Independent Study Project component of all other SIT programs. All students are required to carry out 60 hours of volunteer work in a non-profit organization involved in social or humanitarian activities. Their participation must be based on concrete tasks that do not necessarily imply good language skills.

The rationale behind this choice was: 1 – to allow students with little language skills to attend the program (which an ISP would not allow); 2 – To develop language skills in an authentic setting; 3 – To establish reciprocal relationships with local organizations.

The types of partner organizations this project was developed with are quite diverse and deal with a variety of issues such as:

- Sustainable environment: student working with an organic caterer

- Social support for the elderly: student participating and assisting in social and cultural activities for the elderly

- Social support for young kids with school difficulties: student helping out with after school activities in socially disadvantaged neighborhood

- Social support for immigrant neighborhood populations: student assisting organization in setting up meetings and cultural gatherings at immigrant center.

This presentation intends to raise discussions with panelists about the relationships between these organizations and the institution that emerge from directly involving students in their activities. How does this impact interactions, future relationships but also the image of SIT in the community? To what extent does this experience move the role of SIT from a foreign friendly outsider to an active member of the community?

The notion of reciprocity is largely supported and praised. However, its application does bring about a number of issues and challenges to be discussed on this panel: How do students view their roles in volunteering? To what extent does this match organizations’ views? How culturally relative is the definition of assistance and reciprocal support? Who helps who and how? Finally, can this relationship fully happen on equal terms and equally benefit each party?

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Aug 9th, 10:30 AM Aug 9th, 12:00 PM

Community Service as Reciprocity in France

As part of the reciprocity panel, the presentation aims to focus on the French program newly developed Community Service project element of its curriculum. Starting in the Spring of 2010, this seminar has replaced the Independent Study Project component of all other SIT programs. All students are required to carry out 60 hours of volunteer work in a non-profit organization involved in social or humanitarian activities. Their participation must be based on concrete tasks that do not necessarily imply good language skills.

The rationale behind this choice was: 1 – to allow students with little language skills to attend the program (which an ISP would not allow); 2 – To develop language skills in an authentic setting; 3 – To establish reciprocal relationships with local organizations.

The types of partner organizations this project was developed with are quite diverse and deal with a variety of issues such as:

- Sustainable environment: student working with an organic caterer

- Social support for the elderly: student participating and assisting in social and cultural activities for the elderly

- Social support for young kids with school difficulties: student helping out with after school activities in socially disadvantaged neighborhood

- Social support for immigrant neighborhood populations: student assisting organization in setting up meetings and cultural gatherings at immigrant center.

This presentation intends to raise discussions with panelists about the relationships between these organizations and the institution that emerge from directly involving students in their activities. How does this impact interactions, future relationships but also the image of SIT in the community? To what extent does this experience move the role of SIT from a foreign friendly outsider to an active member of the community?

The notion of reciprocity is largely supported and praised. However, its application does bring about a number of issues and challenges to be discussed on this panel: How do students view their roles in volunteering? To what extent does this match organizations’ views? How culturally relative is the definition of assistance and reciprocal support? Who helps who and how? Finally, can this relationship fully happen on equal terms and equally benefit each party?