ΓÇ£Out of My Comfort ZoneΓÇ¥: Understanding the Impact of a Service-Learning Experience in Rural El Salvador
This qualitative case study was designed to explore the impact of a two-week service-learning experience in rural El Salvador on students' perceptions of its impact on them personally, professionally and ┬átheir global awareness.┬á Students stayed in an economically impoverished village in rural El Salvador and worked on projects that promoted education for children in the village. ┬áParticipants included 15 graduate and undergraduate students; 13 from the College of Education of a large university in the northeastern part of the United States. Multiple data sources were used to understand these impacts including: open-ended interviews conducted two to four months after the trip; field notes from participant observations in large and small group activities, group reflections; and informal incidents and conversations; review of documents related to the class (student journals; student final papers), and daily activity and health logs.
┬á┬á While the initial process of adjustment was difficult for some students, all students felt that their participation in this experience had an important, positive impact on them.┬á Data indicated that this impact occurred in all three major areas addressed in this study, including: personal (e.g. sense of appreciation, gaining perspective, rethinking consumption, clarifying values, and learning they ΓÇ£could do itΓÇ¥/self-efficacy, professional (affirming career choices, ability to work with Latino children and families; improving professional skills) and global awareness (e.g. perspectives on poverty and social justice, views of immigration, understanding of the world).┬á Findings will be discussed in terms of exant literature related to the impact of short-term service experiences.
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).