In the UNF Deaf Education program, we feel strongly about providing students with the opportunity to engage in service learning experiences. These experiences are referred to transformational learning opportunities (TLOs) at UNF. TLOs “whether inside or outside the classroom, have the potential to enrich student learning and personal development” as well as “set the occasion for life-changing experiences”. https://www.unf.edu/tlo/
Over the past 8 years, faculty and students in the Deaf Education program have engaged in service learning and/or TLOs in the Philippines, Hawaii, and Greece. Currently, the faculty in the program are exploring additional service learning opportunities in Haiti and Thailand.
UNF students participating in these programs have the opportunity to work with teachers and attend cultural events. During the service learning experiences, students are expected to both assist and lead lessons within school settings. Students who have previously attended the trips reported that the experience helped them (1) understand the needs of teachers and the educational system abroad, and (2) become culturally aware of the vast differences for teachers and students in the USA versus a developing country such as the Philippines. Here are quotes from our students:
“Professionally speaking, I would never have been able to learn what I did on my trip in a regular college course. Being in Manila schools made me see how incredibly fortunate we are in the United States for the resource we have, but it also pushed my skills as a teach, because I had to instruct the students without having manipulative, the internet, or even current textbooks.”
“My life was changed by this trip. The honest and fair evaluation of my teaching strengths and weaknesses has given me a fresh perspective on my education and career endeavors. As I mentioned before, I have traveled to the Philippines on my own twice in the past 12 years. I have never experienced so much personal growth from those experiences.”
As stated above, TLOs can occur within the University setting. At UNF, when funding is available, we offer a summer camp entitled, iREAD Graphic Novels. This is yet another way Deaf Education students can engage in service learning opportunities. To learn more about iREAD Graphic Novels, please visit the webpage and Facebook page.