Why is Service Learning vital?
When we see people travelling abroad to help a charity we are often tempted to ask who profits most from this situation? The giver or the receiver? Why couldn’t the givers simply donate the air fares which took them to the place of need rather than go there in person? The receivers would receive more aid and so it is tempting to see such expeditions as being about the aid giver rather than the aid receiver. At the Royal School we work hard to examine carefully the motives of pupils.
Every second year a group of pupils and staff travel to Trilok Puri – the preparation and fundraising for the trip is long and expansive. A lot is learned by the team along the way about themselves, about teamwork and about the dynamics of the situation they will find themselves in. However, it is in the visit and the human contact “where the magic happens”! It is not about having a great trip; it is about human to human interaction, it is about looking people in the eye, investing time with them, being in their place and smiling back at them. It is about letting them know that they matter because they are unique and precious. It is the giving of self to others, not to build a CV but to build a community which can never pay you back, which makes service learning transformational. Done properly, service learning should leave a legacy of empowerment with those helped, but also stir the participant sufficiently to lead to future similar social action. Service learning engages the emotions and engages the intellect to make a difference because it is good in and of itself.