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Those of us working in higher education, have been talking about “service learning” for many years, but for many it is a new concept.

What is “service learning?”

Quite simply, it is a process which involves learning taking place while service is being given or donated without compensation.

In higher education, service learning can be accomplished by students enrolling in a course which, in addition to regular class work, provides students an opportunity to participate in volunteer work.

Service learning provides a wonderful opportunity for students to make contributions to society, which ultimately results in a deeper understanding of not only course content, but the world in which we live.

Cayuga Community College has recently developed a new course which provides service learning for individuals interested in the field of education.

The course, “Interdisciplinary Study in Navajo Culture and Education” (INT239), will be offered for the first time during Intersession 2009 (January 2009) and will include nine hours of in-class time and a week-long stay at the Tuba City Boarding School on the Navajo Nation in Arizona.

The course is designed as an interdisciplinary course that will provide information from a variety of disciplines: history, geography, art, Native American studies and education.

The course will include a series of seminars, research and discussions on-campus and culminates with a week-long, on-site service learning experience working with young children in Tuba City, Ariz.

Participants will explore past and present perspectives of the Navajo culture to facilitate intercultural exploration and understanding.

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The course begins at 9 a.m. Jan, 7, at Cayuga Community College in Auburn and continues on-campus until Jan. 9. Participants then travel to Phoenix, Arizona on Jan. 10 and spend the day touring the Heard Museum and Old Town Scottsdale.

On Jan. 11, everyone travels north to the Grand Canyon and then on to Tuba City. The stay in Tuba City begins with an orientation dinner, which includes an authentic Native American meal and an introduction to the Navajo culture.

Bright and early the next morning, participants begin working in the schools during the day and participating in cultural events in the late afternoon and early evening.

Cultural events will include a visit to the Navajo Museum and the Code Talkers Museum, participation in a traditional “sweat” in a Navajo Hogan, a tour of a sheep farm and attendance at a traditional Navajo storytelling and musical presentation.

Participation in this service-learning opportunity is open to both students and non-students. Enrollment for the course is limited, so if you'd like to participate, you must contact Linda in the Continuing Education Office by calling 255-1743 to begin the registration process.

You can also contact Pat Gridley or Teresa Hoercher at the college at 255-1743 for additional information.

Patricia Gridley, Ph.D., is an

associate professor and the

coordinator of the Early Childhood program at Cayuga

Community College

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