By: Maxine Pond, A.C.E. at MSU Instructor, Special Correspondent to the A.C.E. Blog
Sometimes the best way to learn is by doing. That is just what the Community Involvement Class from A. C. E. at MSU in Bozeman did in Fall 2014. Not only did these international students learn about food security issues and the local food bank, they actively participated in the Montana State University food drive by collecting over 150 pounds of canned goods from other A.C.E. students and staff. What pleasure they brought to the director of Gallatin Valley Food Bank when the class traveled to the food bank to deliver the last box of food personally! Intently, the international students listened to a food bank employee give them the grand tour and observed the power of a small, volunteer organization to serve its community.
By hosting and funding their own party, the students in the community involvement class encouraged other A.C.E. students and staff to learn more about the food bank and to donate canned goods. Yousei, a student from Japan, encouraged other international students when he said, “The people in Bozeman often hold a party for international students and help us. This is a great opportunity to give it back to the community. We hope to see you all at our Food Donation Party.”
Furthermore, they used and expanded their English skills to research the local volunteer service organizations on the web, present orally and in writing what they learned, make announcements in other A.C.E. classes, write emails and thank you notes to the food bank, and to create informational posters for the A.C.E. classrooms. Students reported that the opportunity to participate and tour the food bank was a meaningful life learning experience as well. One student shared that she had volunteered in her home country and had wanted to become involved at MSU. The Community Involvement class gave her just the “push” she needed to get out there and find a way to give back to her new “community” in Bozeman. Another student indicated he hoped to take back to his country what he had learned about helping those in need.
Wonder what it was like to attend A.C.E.’s food donation party? Take a look at our student’s perspective video, here!
For more information on community engagement at A.C.E. Language Institute at MSU, please visit our website at www.cultural.org/esl/msu.php