Hands-on learning and reflection reigns at PAC

By Ruben Cortez
Pulse Staff Reporter

Edlyn de Oliveria, instructor of Music at Palo Alto College, leads the Palo Alto Choir during the Hurricane Harvey Relief Concert on Sept. 26, 2017.
Edlyn de Oliveria, instructor of Music at Palo Alto College, leads the Palo Alto Choir during the Hurricane Harvey Relief Concert on Sept. 26, 2017.

Service-Learning courses provide an opportunity for students to receive hands-on experience while also earning college credit.  Through this style of education, students gain a sense of community, learn how to solve problems and understand what it means to give back.

“Service-Learning would basically provide an activity that meets [a community-identified] need, includes students in the planning…and addresses those needs,” said Hunter Bates, the student success coordinator here at Palo Alto College, who offices in the S.H.A.R.E. Center.

While this seems similar to volunteering, Service-Learning offers a greater learning experience than what a student receives with labs and lectures. This is because all of the hands-on learning still needs to fit into the course requirements. That is the tricky part, explained Bates.

“They still have to learn the same stuff that they would learn in a regular course, except now they’re doing it in the field,” Bates said.

One of the professors already implementing the idea of Service-Learning into his curriculum, Joseph Coppola, an instructor of Speech at PAC, realized he had been providing such an opportunity after attending a training where the speaker defined Service-Learning as just being aware.

A few semesters ago, Coppola had a group in his SPCH 1311 class become involved with the San Antonio Food Bank. This brought awareness to the food insecurity issue in San Antonio. From start to finish, students were in charge of figuring out who they need to talk to, what it would take and the impact of their service.

One of the more recent examples of Service-Learning can be found in the Theatre Arts and Music Departments.

Their recent performance was a relief concert for those affected by Hurricane Harvey.  The Palo Alto Choir along with the Jazz Ensemble and Teatro Palo Alto performed the event on Sept. 26, 2017, raising more than $400 in cash donations and five boxes full of food and cleaning supplies.

“It’s really important for our kids to understand the community we live in, in order for our community to appreciate the arts,” said Edyln de Oliveria, an instructor of Music at PAC, who also serves as the choir director and the music director for the college’s shows.

This concert not only showed the efforts of the Theatre and Music students making a difference, but also the efforts of AmeriCorp V.I.S.T.A, the volunteer group that is available here at PAC.

Run by Nickita Sancho and Nathan King, the program coordinators, they aim to not only get students involved with the community but are open to allowing those from outside the campus to get involved, as well.  They are making sure PAC students get the full experience, said Sancho.

“We truly believe you improve as a student once you give back to your community,” Sancho said.

PAC Serves, which students can access through OrgSync, is the main hub where students can become involved in volunteer activities.

Never missing an event is Katlyn Hamaker, a student at PAC and president of both Club Stand an advocacy group against violence, and the National Society of Leadership and Success.

“When I see my community here and they’re getting help and their reaction to the help they’re getting, it’s humbling,” Hamaker said about PAC’s first-ever farmer’s market

Palo Alto College's first-ever farmer's market on Oct. 6, 2017, was organized by members of the student organization PAC Serves.
Palo Alto College’s first-ever farmer’s market on Oct. 6, 2017, was organized by members of the student organization PAC Serves.

Volunteers of PAC Serves helped organize the college’s famer’s market on Oct. 6, 2017.  One of the vendors available the event was the Food Bank, who handed out $5 vouchers that attendees could use toward fresh produce.  The success of the market will lead to future markets on the campus, with a goal to have a farmer’s market every other month.

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