A few times a month, the three student residents of the new Community-Based Learning & Research (CBLR) house come together to talk about what they are learning from their community service activities.
These reflection sessions help them stay focused on the purpose of their Learning Living Community (LLC), one of 13 that opened in college-owned houses on Monroe Street this academic year.
With themes ranging from Chinese and economics to religion and theater, each LLC develops activities and events based on an academic curriculum. The houses are supported by faculty sponsors and have a small budget for core programming, as well as large-scale events that benefit the entire campus.
“I was interested in the idea of taking on a newly formed leadership role on campus in an area that I am very passionate about. I wanted to take on the challenge of planning events and helping other students learn about CBLR, as well as learning about what I am capable of,” says Katie Graziano ’15, a psychology major.
“I chose the CBLR house because I really enjoy trying to enact social change and learning about the effects of different things on the local community and society as a whole,” says Wheeler.
As a part of the house’s agreed-upon syllabus requirements, the three CBLR residents are involved in programs through the Landis Community Outreach Center, which gives them opportunities to give back to the local community.
“I’ve met some really interesting people through this program. I also feel like I’m gaining a much more realistic and mature understanding of the issues that cities like Easton are dealing with,” says Wheeler.
Throughout the fall, the CBLR students organized a variety of activities, including making scarves for homeless people in Philadelphia and cards for the residents of a local nursing home.
CBLR has organized a weekly open discussion series, parties to watch the presidential debates, and gatherings to view movies dealing with social issues. One of the first events was watching a film about teen pregnancy, Desire, with a women’s and gender studies class.
As the year continues, the students plan to continue collaborating with other groups on campus to organize similar events. This spring, CBLR is working on organizing “Safe Zone” training for all of the LLC houses. They also plan to conduct presentations on CBLR classes, and are considering putting together a publication to promote CBLR opportunities for students and faculty.
“I’ve enjoyed planning programs a lot more than I thought I would. I’m very passionate about the things that we have sponsored and co-sponsored with other groups on campus, and have seen those events as opportunities, rather than requirements. My roommates and I have definitely developed our leadership skills a great deal,” Graziano says.
CBLR residents receive guidance and advice from the house’s three faculty sponsors: Debbie Byrd, professor of English; Rob Root, professor and head of math; and Bonnie Winfield, director of the Landis Center.