Thirty-three students from Marne Apolo’s two sections of COM 135: Interpersonal Communication joined together outside the borders of the classroom. Inspired by Bell Hooks’ call to take theory to the streets (mesh theory with practice), they reviewed Dialectical theory in the classroom prior and integrated it into their experience at Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding on Thursday, October 25.
Together they worked hard the entire time with smiles and music, all the while interacting with one another in a more relaxed, purposeful atmosphere.
Instead of being Professor Apolo, I was Marne, with my daughter Ava. I think to some degree my students were able to see me as more of a human being, instead of the symbolic role of the evaluating Professor. I am hoping that our more casual interactions will allow them to feel more comfortable approaching me, asking questions, and even being nicer. I think that the experience has bridged closeness for me that always seems challenging, given the inherent power differences. I feel more empathy for my students, having witnessed how hard they worked at Equest; raking leaves, hauling tarps of leaves to the dump pile, shoveling manure, cleaning troughs, staining picnic tables and the deck to the main office at Equest. I really cannot literally see the hard work they put into their coursework. I see the end result and can pretty much conclude what kind of time, energy, and reflection was invested, but at Equest, I was able to witness the dedication to start and finish a chore, the supportive communication with peers, and even the sweat on many a brow.
Equest was very grateful for the work, it is amazing how much progress 35 people can make in 4.5 hours when working together! It was a wonderful opportunity to strengthen a connection with one of GRCC’s community partners, practice the interpersonal concepts students have been studying, and create community within the class.
More pictures can be found at the GRCC Academic Service Learning Facebook page. Want to incorporate Academic Service Learning into your course? Learn more at: http://www.grcc.edu/servicelearning