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Students experience service learning

Pictured (left to right) are Emily Ke Deng, Dr. Jui-Chi Huang, and Michael S. Cohen, conducting a service learning project with Friend, Inc.
Pictured (left to right) are Emily Ke Deng, Dr. Jui-Chi Huang, and Michael S. Cohen, conducting a service learning project with Friend, Inc.
Dr. Jui-Chi Huang, Assistant Professor of Economics, has been incorporating service learning into his curriculum this semester. With the support of the Laboratory for Public Scholarship and Democracy at Penn State Berks, Huang was able to establish a mutually beneficial relationship for the students and a community organization in need.

Students in Huang’s class, Introductory Macroeconomic Analysis and Policy Honors, have been conducting a service learning project with Friend, Inc. Community Services to enhance their studies of U.S. poverty from an economic perspective, one of the objectives of the course.  Friend, Inc. is an agency that provides a food pantry, case management, budget counseling, parenting support groups, and financial crisis interventions to families in need in northeastern Berks County.

The students have volunteered to work in the food bank, which is open in the evening on the third Thursday of every month. Their responsibilities ranged from keeping the shelves full, assisting clients with their selections, and maintaining the flow of clients through the food bank.

Additionally, students helped Friend, Inc. with preparations for their annual fundraiser, FriendFest, where they made more than 1,600 hoagies in an assembly line of 40 volunteers on the evening prior to the event and then returned the following morning to the set up for the event on Saturday, February 19, 2011.

Service learning is commonly defined as a “teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.”

After their service is complete, the students will be required to reflect on their experiences working with Friend, Inc. as they relate to economic issues associated with poverty including the extent and nature of poverty in the United States and public policy designed to address poverty. They will also be asked to address how the they have developed as citizens as a result of the service.

For more information about this project, contact Huang at JXH74@psu.edu or for information about The Laboratory for Public Scholarship and Democracy at Penn State Berks, contact Dr. Laurie Grobman, Coordinator, at LEG8@psu.edu.
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