Service Learning on the U.S./Mexico Border

student playing card gameThis course offers Heidelberg students a unique opportunity to serve one of the neediest communities in the United States by providing a week-long summer enrichment program for its children. Before traveling to the border in June, the class meets once a week throughout the Spring semester to study the social and economic challenges faced by residents of the colonias (immigrant communities) of South Texas and to prepare activities – crafts, music, songs and games – to do with the children of the community during our stay there. Each day on the border, we spend two hours working with the younger children in the morning, and two hours with the teens in the afternoon. Our hosts for this experience are the women of ARISE, a grass-roots community organization.

ARISE has community centers in three colonias along the U.S/Mexico border in South Texas, and through these centers the women provide many valuable services to their neighbors. For example, ARISE offers classes in "active parenting" and driver's license exam preparation, a diabetes support group, English classes, transportation for medical appointments and a summer enrichment program for the children of each colonia.

The ideal student for this trip ...

... loves children and has lots of patience for extremely hot, humid and non-luxurious conditions. (No whiners, please!) The ideal candidate for this trip also has an open mind to new experiences and to people who have had very different life experiences than yours. Because we will be in an immigrant (mostly Mexican) community, some knowledge of Spanish is a definite plus.