Reflections of the $100 Solution™

In my role as a Graduate Assistant, one of my tasks is to look over the student reflections as they meet the challenge of the $100 Solution TM. This task gives me insight into which concepts about the $100 Solution TM projects they find most striking or most daunting.

Reciprocity is the concept that students instantly recognize as making this project different from almost any other service project with which they have been involved. Many students come to the Project with experience helping others. Some have participated in food drives, church outreach projects or mission work; others have participated in service activities as members of Greek societies here on campus. These are the students that usually tell us they are looking forward to the service-learning component of the class because they “enjoy helping other people.”

After being introduced to the concepts of the $100 Solution TM, it was obvious that the concept of reciprocity—making the” learning” part of the project mutual between the students and their partners—resounded with the students. In training, Nadia stresses that our students are not giving charity— our partner families and organizations have no personal stake in charity. Somehow, the students must find a way for the partner to reciprocate learning. This may happen when a partner organization allows students to practice skills making marketing materials, or when a partner family shares a meal with the group, or even when the partners make the students a t-shirt to wear during their presentation. Learning must be a two-way street.

The students seem to embrace this idea—that they are receiving something in return for their work, beyond just “feeling good” that they helped someone else. They are developing and using skills in communication and cooperation, as well as many other areas, that will serve them throughout the rest of their careers.

Holly D. Brooks

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