Celia Pang was one of several Chaminade University students selected to present at the Continuums of Service conference on service-learning in Bellevue, Washington in 2005. The following description of her service-learning experience is excerpted from NOVLNEWSLINE Network of Volunteer Leaders, Summer 2006 Vol 16 No. 2.
It all began during the fall of 2005 in my “Business Law and Ethics” class. I had only two choices: a 25 pg paper or service-learning project. Like most students in my class, I choose to commit myself to service-learning project through the SHINE program; Students Helping in the Naturalization of Elders. Like most students, I was enrolled in 5 classes and I maintained a full-time job. How was I ever going to manage 25 additional hours of service-learning? I decided the answer was simple: I’m not going to SHINE for me…I’m going to SHINE to help other people. The elderly immigrants I tutored each week learned to speak and write better English, and many of them passed their naturalization exams. I was privileged enough to be chosen as a site coordinator for the following semester, leading me to take a course entitled “Program Management and Capacity Building for Volunteer Non-Profit Programs – Service-Learning.” Sustainability was the main topic. We began the class with a question from our professors, “How could programs like SHINE survive without a program manager?” Through the class, it became clear: we the students can be the answer!
With Chaminade University’s support, Kapualani Mashima, Donna Diaz, Amber Feliciano, and I were given the opportunity to present to a national audience on the topic: “If you build it we may come If we build it we will stay, student-developed, student-organized, student-nurtured programs.” Having honed our skills and explored our academic and experiential resources, we had come a long way through the course, and our instructors Wayne Tanna and Candice Sakuda continued to provide guidance for us in Bellevue. Our facilitation of the discussion at the conference yielded many tools and different perspectives on the pressing questions revolving around sustainability. The synergy was exciting for me. Everyone that came to our presentation was there for the same reason: to explore sustainability, student leadership, and the important role of service-learning in reaching out into the community.
The Continuums of Service conference can be the beginning of strengthening the service-learning programs at Chaminade I strongly believe that without service-learning I would never have learned the true meaning of helping the community, or come to realize that it is up to us as college students to take the responsibility now for our community of the future. It is up to us to make a difference in our community, for our community. In the end, or shall I say the beginning, it’s not just about me.