Act and Reflect
(Reflection provided by the “Scrub Club” Service Learning Group)
Youth Service America (YSA) recommends a full procedure for the planning and initiation of a service project, summarized in the acronym IPARD/C. The acronym represents several steps to instigate a sustainable and thoroughly organized project: Investigation (choose an issue, brainstorm ways to help and solve problems), Preparation and Planning (gather a team, create goals), Action (implement plan, document progress), Reflection (reflect on what you’re learning and doing), and Demonstration/Celebration (share outcomes and celebrate success). The theory emphasizes the importance of a clear vision in the Investigation step, providing exercises focused on brainstorming. The organizational backbone of the project begins in the Preparation and Planning step, in which YSA provides a comprehensive outline for achieving the goals created in the the Investigation process. The Act step builds on this careful planning; the planning team, organized in the previous step, carries out logistics, gathers materials, and begins outreach to the media in order to promote the project. YSA also highly suggests documentation in order to maintain the organization and structure established in the Preparation and Planning process. After the action comes reflection; through activities like poems, journals, and collages, YSA encourages the team to think about the impact of the service on themselves and the community.The process is continued with Demonstration and Celebration, in which team members are encouraged to bring the reflection of the previous step out into the open and share the outcome of the project with the greater community with an interactive blog post, presentation, or follow up article aimed to further include the community in the successes or failures of the project.
The information provided by YSA provides an extensive outline for a service project. They strongly emphasize organization and documentation as a way to create a project that is cohesive and successful. As a group, we found that the YSA method relates directly to the concepts behind AMIGOS’s CBIP ; while action and implementation are important parts of the project, AMIGOS emphasizes the fact that it is a process more than it is a “project”. YSA incorporates reflection and sharing into every step of the process, creating an open dialogue between the project leaders (the team) and the community to promote sustainability. In addition, the thorough outline that YSA provides parallels the CAT packet that AMIGOS participants receive during the summer to assess the state of the community and form a plan. The outline provides useful advice and thinking points that could help a participant to maintain focus and structure in their summer.
We found that the article provided a comprehensive sketch of a service project; at times, the amount of different brainstorming and reflection involved seemed slightly overwhelming and too time consuming. However the outline provided helpful perspectives on the different types of project that could benefit a community, suggesting that the team consider whether the issue could be addressed through awareness (community education), service (direct action), advocacy (promoting solution and speaking up for change), and philanthropy (fundraising). In the context of our service learning project and our CBIPs, we found this to be a helpful starting place and something important to determine.
There were two main things our group liked about the article. One was its thoroughness, so the task of creating a service project did not seem too daunting. The other was its focus on being passionate about the issue our project is on. Both of these things will be very important in our summer with AMIGOS. First of all, organization and planning is extremely important. It is imperative to organize our ideas and actions during our CBIP, otherwise difficult problems and conflicts may arise. There are other important times during the summer where creating a thorough and clear guide is an integral part, for example: planning campamentos. Passion about your project is also crucial for your CBI. If you do not show interest in your project, or cannot get your community to support and stand by it, then many more problems can come around. It is important to care and be interested in your CBI, or find a way to relate with it so you can learn to care about it. We all agree that learning to implement our ideas and our process into the CBIP is imperative to have a successful summer. We appreciated how this article provided a full comprehensive sketch of our service project, and we hope that we are all able to do this during our summer.
(Reflection based on YOUth Changing the World: A Service Learning Toolkit, created by YSA)