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Our Approach to Ethical Service Learning Engagements

One of the key aspects of our Transformative Learning Journeys at EDU Africa is our Ethical Service Learning placements. Students have been participating in community projects all over the world for years, however, Service Learning is much more than the traditional volunteer experience. 

Why do we encourage Service Learning? 

At its foundation, Service Learning is an opportunity for students to take their learning outside of the classroom and apply it in real-life cross-cultural environments. It is offering a service to the community partner in a way that is beneficial to the community and contributes to the professional development of the student. Although service is the focus of these placements, students often quickly realize that there is more to learn than to give. Entering a Service Learning engagement ready to listen and observe, uncovers the deep insight and experience held by the local community. These experiences encourage holistic student transformation in our five transformation goal areas: Intercultural Competence, Global Citizenship, Personal Growth, Intellectual Growth, and Professional Development

Ethical service learning student engagement

What is Ethical Service Learning? 

Community placements have drawn mixed reactions over the years. As with any human interaction, they have the power to build up or to break down. At EDU Africa we strongly believe Service Learning is an opportunity to reimagine intercultural collaboration in a way that is beneficial to all parties involved. This belief has guided our philosophy for Ethical Service Learning placements. Through Ethical Service Learning, we can ensure that placements are a positive experience for students, faculty, and community partners. 

Ethical Service Learning is based on the understanding that community partners are experts in their domain and should be honored as leaders in the development of the placement experience. Community partners hold historical, cultural, academic, and practical experience, making them authorities in the field and a rich source of wisdom and knowledge in the context of Service Learning.  All placements are guided by the needs set out by the community partner and are matched with corresponding student skills and resources. The student gains experience in their skill set and the community partner benefits from the student’s service. Through this process of honor and collaboration, each party benefits. 

The true value of Ethical Service Learning is found in the interactions and relationship building that occurs in the context of intercultural engagement. The focus of the student in Ethical Service Learning engagements is therefore on learning and listening as a priority over the need to help or accomplish. It is with a listening ear and teachable heart that students usually learn the lasting personal and professional lessons they seek. 

Ethical Service Learning has sustainable benefits. The outcomes of the Service Learning engagements do not end when the placement ends. The student’s work is designed to become a platform on which the community partner can continue to build. Whether it be designing a social media plan, mentoring youth in CV writing or the many other service options, Ethical Service Learning placements benefit the community both during and after the engagement. 

Our Virtual and In-country Service Learning engagements

At EDU Africa, we are committed to being good stewards in all our interactions. Ensuring our Service Learning placements are run in the most ethical way is part of this commitment. We are honored to work with a wide range of organizations that are doing innovative work in our communities. It is through their dedication that we are able to run Ethical Service Learning placements that are meaningful to our students and of benefit to the community. In collaboration with our community partners, we carry out regular needs assessments and match opportunities for student placements in a wide variety of disciplines. 

With EDU Africa’s new customizable Virtual Exchange programs, Ethical Service Learning placements are even available online. Virtual Service Learning allows students to collaborate with community members and partner organizations through online platforms. Examples of engagement could include students supporting youth in their school work through Zoom or collaborating with the organization in the development of a fundraising campaign. 

EDU Africa also continues to offer in-country Service Learning opportunities in our Southern and East African locations. Students have the opportunity to work alongside our partner organizations in the community. In-country Service Learning can be in a variety of areas such as social work, education, business, engineering and more.  

As with all EDU Africa-led experiences, Service Learning placements are connected with guided reflection sessions, allowing the participant to truly contemplate their learning and complete the transformative process that is inherent in each Service Learning experience. 

Whether experiencing Service Learning online or in person, students can be confident that the benefits to the community and the life lessons they learn will continue long after the program ends. 

To learn more about our Service Learning opportunities, contact Nicole: