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Part Three: Service Project

Module by: Fred Mednick. E-mail the author

Figure 1: Displaced persons' camp in Kabul, Afghanistan
Figure 1 (inthecamp.jpg)

Starting Your Community Assessment

By now you have chosen a topic, and completed the reading and assignments related to 1 of these topics below:

  • Early childhood education
  • Literacy and numeracy for adult learners
  • Environmental education
  • Education through the arts
  • Girls' education
  • Conflict mediation
  • Special education
  • Community Teaching and Learning Centers

In order to prepare for the Service Project, complete the Community Assessment, which is a series of assignments in this section. The assessment begins and ends with art. Along the way, the community uses the art they've created to inform action by gathering resources and creating tangible benefits. The Community Assessment helps to design a Service Project that is fulfilling a specific need on a local, national, or global level.

Stages

Here are the stages involved in completing your Community Assessment:

  • Create a Metaphorical Map of Your Community: A Community Tree
  • Create a Community Story
  • Reflect upon Metaphorical Map-Making
  • Generate Project Idea 1
  • Generate Project Idea 2
  • Generate Project Idea 3
  • Choose a Project
  • Seek Feedback from your mentor and cohort

Think of this Community Assessment as casting your net into the sea, then gathering it in and looking at what lies within the meshes of your net (work). You'll learn more about your community, and, in doing this assessment, ideas will be sparked for your Service Project.

Assignment 1: Creating a Metaphorical Map of Your Community

Part One: A Community Tree

Invite a group of 8 people to join you for your community assessment - an accounting of the resources and desires of your community. Let each person know that they will be helping to co-create a project that will both assist your study and benefit the community. The program will begin and end as a work of art. Along the way, the community will use art to inform action by gathering resources and creating tangible benefits.

In choosing these eight people, please ensure that the group reflects the diversity of the people in your community: (from young to old), occupations, interests, positions, etc. Each participant must be willing to commit to spending 5 hours with the group. You may wish to ask each participant to bring a favorite food to the gathering or you may wish to have food prepared; begin by eating together. Sharing food will help to set the tone. Hospitality and comfort is key.

Once you have eaten and you are ready to begin co-creating the project, here's what you do:

1) Together, construct an outline of a Community Tree using whatever materials you can find locally. The tree might be drawn on paper, or it might be drawn in sand, or on the earth with an outline of twigs and rocks, whatever materials are readily available. You might mix media. For example there might be some drawing and then other materials would be available to place on top of the drawing. You might even choose to be outside sitting under a tree and placing objects or drawing things or painting the area as you go. (30 minutes)

Assignment 2: A Community Tree

2) Together, fill in the roots - show those things that are key ingredients to your community's foundation and past. This is where you'll draw the elders in the community and their stories about the community's past and heritage. Here's where you put celebrations and traditions. This is where an exchange of stories can happen and deep listening occurs. Who and what are the pattern keepers of your community? What are the key stories? How can you represent these elements, visually, to remind you of what you have just heard? (45 minutes)

3) Together, create the trunk of the tree. The trunk represents the connectors - the people and resources that connect the past with the present and the present with the future (i.e. It could be individuals in the community such as a mail carrier; it could be a river; it could be a sacred text; it could be an industry; rituals, songs, dances; community assets regarding technologies, communication systems, education, livelihoods, skills, ways of governing/decision-making, etc.) How can you represent these elements, visually, in words or pictures? (30 minutes)

4) Together, create the branches. This is what's forming; what's being called forth. The hopes and desires of the adults and the elders. The hopes and desires of the youth. What you are all experiencing now and what do you wish for the future? (30 minutes)

5) Together, create the seeds. The seeds carry the vision. Who/what are the seeds in your ecology metaphor? Perhaps the seeds are ideas for your Service Project. Ask these people gathered to help you envision those seeds. What's needed? What's next? (30 minutes)

6) A tree exists as part of a larger ecology. Add animals, insects, weather, and other elements of nature that cohabitate or interconnect with the tree. For example, a person who is a terrific listener and collects the stories of the community might be drawn as a spider creating a web in which they "catch" the history and stories of the community. The thunder and lightening might be obstacles that threaten the tree's survival and growth. What are the tree's sources of nutrition and support? Represent this living ecology, visually. (30 minutes)

Assignment 3: Community Story and Reflection

7) Take a step back and look at the metaphorical map you created together. Create a story or myth using the visual imagery from the roots all the way to the branches and then the seeds carried in the wind to fall on fertile ground, and keep in mind the larger eco-system. Co-create this story taking turns, or individually write and share your stories. (45 minutes)

Note:

If people individually wrote stories, please type 1 or 2 of the stories below. If your group made a story together, please type the group story below:

8) Thank the group for their help in teaching you about the community. After they have left and while the conversation is still fresh in your mind, take some time to view the metaphorical map and think about all of what was shared. Write a 1-2 page Reflection giving as much detail as possible about each element of the metaphor - the roots, the trunk, the branches, the seeds, the larger ecology of the system.

Describe what was created visually. What are your community's stories, resources, traditions, assets? What are your community's desires? Needs? Challenges or obstacles? What is at the heart of the stories created in Part Two - Hope? Danger? Caution? Renewal? Stuckness? Survival? Imagination? What did you hear and see? Filter this reflection through your five senses. You need to be our eyes, ears, sense of touch, smell, and taste. Describe what you observed and what you now know about your community. What ideas does this generate for you regarding a possible Service Project?

Note:

Type your 1-2 page Reflection below:

To do this assignment, click on the Word icon below. When it appears, press "Save" so that you can work on this assignment "off-line."

Assignment 3: Community Story and Reflection

Assignment 4: Generating Project Ideas

To do this assignment, click on the Word icon below. When it appears, press "Save" so that you can work on this assignment "off-line."

Assignment 4: Generating project Ideas

What 3 different ideas are beginning to form as possible Service Projects? List them here and write one sentence for each.

Assignment 5: Project Idea #1

To do this assignment, click on the Word icon below. When it appears, press "Save" so that you can work on this assignment "off-line."

Assignment 5: Project Idea #1

Answer the following questions for Project Idea #1:

  1. Describe it in 5-6 sentences.
  2. What local, national, or global need is it fulfilling?
  3. Would the community be willing to work with you on this project?
  4. Who within the community would need to participate to ensure its success? Name them and tell their current roles within the community and their relationship to you.
  5. Who could be involved in the advising of this project? Why?
  6. What, if anything, would need to be under the jurisdiction of the local or national government? What types of permits/permissions would be required, if any?
  7. Are there any political sensitivities related to the introduction of this project?
  8. How could you best minimize any legal and bureaucratic interference with this project? What types of activities are heavily regulated? Are there any activities that would not be permitted in this community?
  9. What would be the most appropriate location for your project? Why would you suggest this location? Will it be easily accessible to a wide range of the community?
  10. Is there anything that we have not discussed that would be critical to the success of your project?
  11. Considering the indigenous notion of "The Seventh Generation," how might your Service Project effect people living seven generations from now?
  12. If you were to create a metaphor or a visual image that represents this project what would it be? Describe that picture or metaphor.

Assignment 6: Project Idea #2

To do this assignment, click on the Word icon below. When it appears, press "Save" so that you can work on this assignment "off-line."

Assignment 6: Project Idea #2

Answer the following questions for Project Idea #2:

  1. Describe it in 5-6 sentences.
  2. What local, national, or global need is it fulfilling?
  3. Would the community be willing to work with you on this project?
  4. Who within the community would need to participate to ensure its success? Name them and tell their current roles within the community and their relationship to you.
  5. Who could be involved in the advising of this project? Why?
  6. What, if anything, would need to be under the jurisdiction of the local or national government? What types of permits/permissions would be required, if any?
  7. Are there any political sensitivities related to the introduction of this project?
  8. How could you best minimize any legal and bureaucratic interference with this project? What types of activities are heavily regulated? Are there any activities that would not be permitted in this community?
  9. What would be the most appropriate location for your project? Why would you suggest this location? Will it be easily accessible to a wide range of the community?
  10. Is there anything that we have not discussed that would be critical to the success of your project?
  11. Considering the indigenous notion of "The Seventh Generation," how might your Service Project effect people living seven generations from now?
  12. If you were to create a metaphor or a visual image that represents this project what would it be? Describe that picture or metaphor.

Assignment 7: Project Idea #3

To do this assignment, click on the Word icon below. When it appears, press "Save" so that you can work on this assignment "off-line."

Assignment 7: Project Idea #3

Answer the following questions for Project Idea #3:

  1. Describe it in 5-6 sentences.
  2. What local, national, or global need is it fulfilling?
  3. Would the community be willing to work with you on this project?
  4. Who within the community would need to participate to ensure its success? Name them and tell their current roles within the community and their relationship to you.
  5. Who could be involved in the advising of this project? Why?
  6. What, if anything, would need to be under the jurisdiction of the local or national government? What types of permits/permissions would be required, if any?
  7. Are there any political sensitivities related to the introduction of this project?
  8. How could you best minimize any legal and bureaucratic interference with this project? What types of activities are heavily regulated? Are there any activities that would not be permitted in this community?
  9. What would be the most appropriate location for your project? Why would you suggest this location? Will it be easily accessible to a wide range of the community?
  10. Is there anything that we have not discussed that would be critical to the success of your project?
  11. Considering the indigenous notion of "The Seventh Generation," how might your Service Project effect people living seven generations from now?
  12. If you were to create a metaphor or a visual image that represents this project what would it be? Describe that picture or metaphor.

Assignment 8: Reflecting

To do this assignment, click on the Word icon below. When it appears, press "Save" so that you can work on this assignment "off-line."

Assignment 8: Reflecting

Now that you've completed the Community Assessment, please answer the following questions:

  1. Which of your 3 possible projects ideas are you most drawn to and why? (2-3 paragraphs)
  2. Choose 1 of your project ideas and share it with your learning circle. Show their feedback. What new ideas are generated for you in hearing your cohort's feedback?

Service Project

Through your Community Assessment, you have created an accounting of the resources and desires of your community. You used art and storytelling to inform action. You are now ready to begin your Service Project.

Follow these 6 steps to refining and implementing your Service Project:

  • Planning
  • Approving
  • Doing
  • Tracking
  • Presenting
  • Reflecting

Assignment 9: Planning Your Service Project

To do this assignment, click on the Word icon below. When it appears, press "Save" so that you can work on this assignment "off-line."

Assignment 9: Planning Your Service Project

Step 1- Planning

  1. Choose and meet with your Field Advisor to discuss your ideas. You have worked closely with a Learning Circle and a mentor, thus far. To add to your team of support, we ask now that you choose a Field Advisor, someone who lives near you and can be an on-site guide to you in your Service Project. (Your mentor, of course, will also continue to serve as a support for you.)
    1. Write your Field Advisor's name, address, email, and phone number:
    2. What is their expertise that makes you think they would be a good Field Advisor?
    3. How do you know him or her?
    4. When you met with your Field Advisor, what suggestions or ideas did s/he give you regarding your Service Project?
    5. Have you explained to him or her the responsibilities of being a Field Advisor as follows:
      • Being available to you when you would like to discuss your project.
      • Being available to talk to your mentor at least 3 times during your project (beginning, middle, and end).
      • Willing to write a "Letter of Support" for you after the project is completed and sending it to your mentor within two weeks of completion of your project.
    6. Is s/he willing to make the commitment to being your Field Advisor?
    Send the answers to items a-f to your mentor. When your mentor says you're "Ready," continue with the next item in Step 1 - Planning.

Assignment 10: Planning Continued

To do this assignment, click on the Word icon below. When it appears, press "Save" so that you can work on this assignment "off-line."

Assignment 10: Planning Continued

2. Letter of Intent - Write a 1-2 page letter addressed to Teachers Without Borders that includes the following:

  • Description of your Service Project - what exactly you'll be doing
  • Why you want to do it
  • How it fulfills a need in your community, your country, or around the world
  • How it fits into what you have studied and done before
  • Considering the indigenous notion of "The Seventh Generation," how might your Service Project effect people living seven generations from now?

3. Create a Calendar of steps/activities to fulfill your Service Project. Give specific dates and list what will happen when, etc. List the materials you will need for each activity on the calendar, as well.

4. Presentation Statement - Write 2-3 paragraphs describing how you will present your Service Project to your community after it is completed. Will you give a talk at your local teaching/learning center? Will you create a mural in your town? Will you create a WebQuest that is available for the world to see on the Internet? Will you fly Giant Peace Doves through the town? Will you take pictures and write an aricle for a magazine about your student's construction of an Earthship? What will you do to publically present your project to your community?

5. Partner with a real, mythic, historic, or imagined muse . (We define a muse as a guiding spirit or a source of inspiration in your life.)

Choose, invoke, ask for the help of any historic, mythic contemporary figure, or totem to inspire you in your Service Project. Write 2-3 paragraphs as to why you chose this figure to guide you - how are they a source of inspiration for you in this project? If you are doing a project involving Education through the Arts, for example, you might think about an artist from the past or one who is living, or you might think about a goddess or muse who is the patron of the arts. If you are doing an Environmental Education project, you might think of someone like Jane Goodall or the Earth as sources of inspiration. Create a simple ritual or practice that connects you to this source of inspiration. Describe that ritual or practice in 2-3 paragraphs.

Assignment 11: Approving and Doing

To do this assignment, click on the Word icon below. When it appears, press "Save" so that you can work on this assignment "off-line."

Assignment 11: Approving and Doing

Step 2 - Approving

  1. Field Advisor Approval - Share your writing from 2-5 on the previous page with your Field Advisor and make any revisions as needed.
  2. Mentor Approval - Give a final copy of the following to your mentor:
    • Letter of Intent
    • Calendar
    • Presentation Statement
    • Partner with a Muse

When your mentor says you're "Ready," begin implementing your Service Project.

Step 3 - Doing

Do what you said you would do as outlined in your Letter of Intent and your Calendar. If activities need to be added or deleted to the calendar as the project progresses, talk to your Field Advisor and mentor for approval. Keep the original calendar and also show the new calendar with a 1-2 paragraph written description of why you needed to make those changes to the calendar, if you make changes.

Be sure to read the Tracking section that follows before you start your project; that way you'll be creating your Observation Journal and Sparks Journals as your project progresses.

Assignment 12: Tracking

To do this assignment, click on the Word icon below. When it appears, press "Save" so that you can work on this assignment "off-line."

Assignment 12: Tracking

Step 4 - Tracking

a) Observation Journal

As you do your Service Project, keep a simple "Observation Journal" of things you notice along the way. (An Observation Journal can consist of folding a sheet of paper in half and writing your notes there and later typing them into the assignment template below.) Your completed Observation Journal must have at least 7 entries (include the dates). Each entry can be in the form of a list of 5 observations that start with the words, "Today, I noticed…" or it can be plain observations written in paragraph form.

Examples of plain observations might be: "Today I noticed Gita asked me if she could read her story to the other girls," or "Today I noticed that Mr. Olatunji came into the room at 7:35 p.m., sat in the back, and listened to our literacy group. Afterwards, he asked if he could join us the next time we meet," or "Today I noticed the fourth group in our conflict mediation meeting sat in silence."

b) Sparks Journal

As your Service Project progresses, keep another journal called "Sparks." Your completed Sparks Journal should have at least 8 entries. In this journal, write ideas sparked by conversations with your Field Advisor or mentor; ideas sparked by articles you've read on-line or in the paper (give the title and source and say what idea it sparked for you.); ideas you thought of when engaging in your muse-related ritual, or while taking a walk, fishing, day dreaming, or dreaming at night.

c) Half-way through the Project do the following:

Send 3 entries from your Observation Journal. (You can fill in the journal entry information below and send it to your mentor.)

Send 4 entries from your Sparks Journal to your mentor. (You can fill in the journal entry information below and send it to your mentor.)

Talk to your Field Advisor about how the project is going.

Be sure that your Field Advisor contacts your mentor to give your mentor an update on your progress.

Type the entries for your Observation Journal and the entries for your Sparks Journal here and be sure to include the date:

  1. Observation Journal
    • Entry #1:
    • Entry #2:
    • Entry #3:
  2. Sparks Journal
    • Entry #1:
    • Entry #2:
    • Entry #3:
    • Entry #4:
  3. Write the date you spoke to your Field Advisor:
  4. Write the date your Field Advisor will contact your mentor to give him/her an update on your project:

Assignment 13: Tracking Continued

To do this assignment, click on the Word icon below. When it appears, press "Save" so that you can work on this assignment "off-line."

Assignment 13: Tracking Continued

As you move through the second half of your project, please be sure to type in the rest of your 7 Observation Journal entries and your 8 Sparks Journal entries below. (Remember to include the dates.)

Observation Journal

Entry #4:

Entry #5:

Entry #6:

Entry #7:

Sparks Journal

Entry #5:

Entry #6:

Entry #7:

Entry #8:

Assignment 14: Presenting and Reflecting

Step 5 - Presenting

Here's your gift back to your community. Present what you have learned - with heart, with mind, and with gratitude for the deep learning this Service Project has provided you. (Be sure to personally invite and publically thank each person who helped you with the Community Assessment and Service Project.)

Please Note:

If you wish to make any changes to your presentation from your original Presentation Statement, you need to get your mentor's approval first.

Step 6 - Reflecting

To do this assignment, click on the Word icon below. When it appears, press "Save" so that you can work on this assignment "off-line."

Assignment 14: Presenting and Reflecting

Service Project Reflection (1-page)

  1. After reading what you have written in your Observation Journal and Sparks Journal, and after thinking about your presentation, write a 1-page Service Project Reflection. The following are some suggestions of questions to address; the final reflection, however, should read smoothly in paragraph form without listing the questions:
    • What thoughts/feelings/ideas would you like to share as you reflect upon the experience of doing this Service Project?
    • How was your Service Project and presentation received by your community?
    • What parts of the Service Project worked well?
    • What didn't work well?
    • What changes would you make?
    • What resources do you or others need to take this project to the next level of growth?
    • What ideas for your future does this project spark for you?
    • How might you envision this project effecting people living seven generations from now?
  2. Send your 1-page Service Project Reflection to your cohort and share their feedback.

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