Community partner perspectives

Someone at the Research Academy last week suggested the following book (which has also been added to the Recommended Reading section of this blog), The Unheard Voices: Community Organizations and Service-Learning. It's a fantastic resource that explores the service-learning relationship from the perspective of the community partner. Having worked with two community partners for the EDT 110 course, I became even more mindful of how stretched-thin small nonprofits and NGOs (nongovernment organizations) can be. One chapter is written by the director of a small nonprofit, Amy S. Mondloch, and she gives a great perspective of how to manage a service-learning relationship. One important question for the community partner staff is to consider, according to Mondloch, "How can the work be done after this service learner leaves?" Similar concerns are raised at my institution. I've heard one of the service-learning veterans at WSU pose the question, "Is this drive-by service-learning?" It may sound like a silly question, but it says a lot about the commitment to the community partners. Establishing an ongoing relationship (as opposed to "drive-by"), I imagine, is a best-practice of service-learning. If multiple classes work with community partners throughout the academic year, it can help ensure some continuity and prevent the "drive-by service-learning."