Opinion

Engage in community involvement

Within all of us exists a need to contribute something to humanity that extends beyond the uninspired path of mediocrity.

You might know that you’d like to do something great, but on a university campus, you often find yourself shielded from real life. Perhaps you hear yourself say “maybe next year” and “someday,” but next year comes, and you have to spend even more time managing a busy schedule and focusing on your GPA.

If your classes keep you too busy for regular community service jobs and you can’t bring yourself to wake up early for a park cleanup on your one day off, there is another option. Civic engagement courses are now offered at UM, and as the university’s website states, such courses “allow students to put theory into practice and understand the complexities of practical problem solving in real-world situations.”

Working within the community enables a student to take on the role of active participant rather than passive onlooker. These courses apply hands-on learning and have an impact on not only those affected by the success of specific projects but also the individual’s psyche and the shaping of future goals.

One example of a civic engagement course offered in Fall 2014 is ENG 306, The Literature of Incarceration. Through a series of written exchanges with locally incarcerated writers, students in this class will learn to question their assumptions and “rethink the fundamental models that have shaped our concepts of justice, criminality and imprisonment.” The class aims to make its students lucid, eloquent writers, but beyond this, Professor Joshua Schriftman is opening a door for students to gain new understandings of themselves, each other and the strangers with whom we share society.

We can truly think outside the box when our learning is extended beyond the classroom, and we develop critical thinking skills when class becomes a conversation rather than a lecture. By engaging in a dialogue, we learn to challenge our own preconceived notions and develop empathy, which is the gateway to social change.

There is a great Mark Twain quote about not letting his schooling interfere with his education. Let’s apply this to our own lives. Classes that measure capability only on the basis of test scores have always felt like drudgery to me, because they affect no one but myself. When I get out into the community, however, I begin to glow. I see my skills put to use, and believe even more so than before that one should not have to wait until after graduation to do something worthwhile.

Community involvement shouldn’t just be a memory from high school, nor should it be a short-lived phase that enables students to log required hours into a spreadsheet. Civic engagement courses help us develop a long-term strategy: using one’s capabilities and passions to better the world.

 

Hunter Wright is a sophomore majoring in creative writing.

April 6, 2014

Reporters

Hunter Wright


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • Error

James Jones, who starred at Hialeah American High School, the University of Miami and was a part of ...

A classic good news/bad news scenerio arose for Miami Hurricanes football at the recent Atlantic Coa ...

The University of Miami football players are not the only ones getting preseason accolades. The guys ...

Defending national champ Clemson led all Atlantic Coast Conference schools Wednesday with five playe ...

This was a neat idea that Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback website rolled out just as NFL tra ...

Gomez, an expert on human values and attitudes in post-Castro Cuba, will serve as interim director o ...

The University of Miami announced the appointment of Cindy Munro as the new dean of the School of Nu ...

Read the latest entries from UM students who are spending part or all of their summer visiting diffe ...

University of Miami’s Office of Civic and Community Engagement harnesses technology to seek affordab ...

UM female scientists share some insight on women in science, science in Hollywood and how Wonder Wom ...

RSS Error: A feed could not be found at http://www.hurricanesports.com/. A feed with an invalid mime type may fall victim to this error, or SimplePie was unable to auto-discover it.. Use force_feed() if you are certain this URL is a real feed.

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.