By Melissa Wilk
The impacts of Community Service-Learning (CSL) students are far-reaching, in the words of the Camrose Women’s Shelter’s Volunteer Coordinator, Jennifer Page. “Not only are students bringing in new ideas and new strategies to enrich lives, but they are also bringing in their enthusiasm and contributing to a great cause in assisting others in their time of need,” says Jennifer.
One of these students is Jaden De Wall, a fourth-year psychology major who has been working extensively with the Camrose Women’s Shelter. Jaden started getting involved in CSL in her first year and has finished many placements both on campus and in the community. “I’ve had the chance to learn about the community that I live in and to see the invaluable relationship between Augustana and Camrose,” says Jaden.
Now taking CSL480, a senior level specialized course that allows students to complete 50-hour CSL placements, Jaden is working with the Camrose Women’s Shelter for the second time. Jaden’s current project is focused on writing a policy for volunteers to help them become more trauma-informed and to better understand the social issues that the shelter seeks to combat.
Jennifer says she hopes to see CSL students learn new things about society: “I hope that students take away an increased understanding of social and cultural diversity, an increased awareness of their community and community needs and an increased knowledge of where they fit in to solve real-world problems.”
For Jaden, working with the shelter has given her many new insights. “It’s been amazing to observe the connections across disciplines. This placement has combined my interests, the academic side and the real world,” says Jaden. “I now understand and have experienced how things like sociology and psychology connect to domestic abuse and other women’s issues.”
Jaden also points out that the CSL program has given her an opportunity to critically reflect on her volunteer placements. “We learned about how experiences are opportunities to wonder and explore, but without reflection they are useless,” says Jaden. “Being in CSL has given me the chance to reflect deeply on my experiences in these placements, which has been helpful for my learning and development as a student.”
Jennifer says that the shelter benefits from Augustana students spending time and creating projects for the betterment of women and children.
“Just seeing the smiles on the children’s faces and knowing the children are truly gaining in all aspects—mentally, emotionally and developmentally—is proof enough to know the CSL students make a huge impact,” says Jennifer.
This piece originally appeared in the Fall 2019 CIRCLE Alumni Magazine.