SIAS students participate in weekend of service


HAYS, Kan. – Most students throughout America are required to complete a certain amount of community service hours before they graduate high school; however, students attending Sias International University, one of Fort Hays State University’s China partner schools, seldom face the same obligation.

“So 380 Sias students enrolled in LDRS 310: Fieldwork in Leadership Studies faced a very steep challenge in a class that focuses on service learning where students must design and deliver a project aimed at addressing a social issue,” said Dr. Jill Arensdorf, chair of the Department of Leadership Studies.  

“Instructors of the course decided to provide a new experience where students enrolled in the class could be introduced to community service by participating in a project coordinated as part of the course curriculum,” said Dr. Jeffrey Bourgeois, assistant professor of leadership studies.

FHSU faculty who coordinated the effort included Bourgeois; Angelique Evans, instructor of leadership studies; and Brittany Hughes, instructor of leadership studies.

Faculty at Sias worked together to organize a series of projects at three different sites over the course of a weekend in collaboration with the Henan Charity Federation, a registered nonprofit in Zhengzhou.

“All three visits provided opportunities for the LDRS 310 classes to learn about the process of helping others by immersing them in the act of helping others,” said Bourgeois.

The first day, 150 students visited a local orphanage. While there, students lead 10-14 year olds in activities including basic English lessons, outdoor games, and art projects. The same day, 130 other students visited a local primary school where they lead similar activities.

The last day 100 students visited a school for blind and deaf children. Students who visited the school read to the blind children and played games with the deaf children.

“Many shared stories about specific children with whom they connected during their participation in the project,” said Bourgeois.

“After the weekend of service, students had in class discussions and writing assignments to ensure they could identify specific strategies such as establishing project goals, communicating with organizations, creating a project timeline and assessing the success of the project,” he said.

“For many this will serve as a time they came together with their classmates to learn outside the classroom walls and improve the lives of some often overlooked members of their local community,” said Bourgeois.

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