Category Archives: service-learning

Community Service Counts

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Last year over 700 Keene State students worked 17,000 hours in the community.  Mary McEntee, Coordinator of the Community Service office, captures all that information.

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Mary McEntee

Until recently students reported their hours by printing out a form from the website, completing it and handing it in monthly. Then student workers keyed in the information. The process was slow and labor intensive.

This month, Community Service switched to an online form they created using Google docs. Students now fill out the form whenever they want and the data they enter is automatically entered into a spreadsheet. “This way students can complete the form anytime, 24-7,” said Mary. “They can submit a from each time they volunteer so they won’t forget.” In the first two weeks of use there have been over 800 entries logging over 15,500 service hours.

“I expect we will get an even better response now that students don’t have to look for a printer and carry their form to the office. Plus, there is no delay. We see the data as soon as it’s entered. ”

Creating the form was simple according to Mary. “CELT led us through the process and it was done in a half hour.  I would not have known who to ask to help me with this task but Judy Brophy followed up on an unrelated question and we got together.”

“It’s important to be able to accurately report this very positive data to the community,” said Mary, “and now we can do it more quickly and easily.”

For more information see Using Google Forms to Gather Survey Data.

China Connections

The rich tapestry of sights, sounds, smells and experiences that is China captivated students Tom Freudenthal and Lance Whitehill during their recent visit to Shenzhen and Hong Kong with Professor Peter Temple.

Prof.  Temple was exploring possibilities for cooperative and exchange programs with 4 universities (Shenzhen University, Harbin Institute of Technology, Hong Kong Polytechnic and University of Hong Kong,) as well as internships with architectural design, engineering, and building technology firms.

Shenzhen is the Chinese city designated as “Art and Design”. From a small fishing village it has been the fastest growing city in the world since its opening in the late 1970’s. The population has doubled in the last 6 months to 14 million people. As you can imagine there are building job opportunities everywhere.

Tom and Lance stayed in a dorm at Harbin Institute of Technology in Shenzhen. This campus of Harbin offers graduate programs in both architecture and engineering. “We found that the HIT Masters of Architecture program could work as a graduate school option for KSC graduates. Although most students and faculty speak Chinese in their informal conversation, the classes, powerpoint presentations, and design critiques are all in English,” said Prof. Temple.

It was the students’ first trip outside the U.S. except for the Caribbean for Tom.  They took the opportunity to encounter every new experience they could over the week that they were there. Food was one area that fascinated them.

Durian Fruit

Durian Fruit

“The food was excellent,” said Lance. “Very spicy, nothing sweet. Not much meat.” One thing they noticed was that no cold drinks are served. If you order water you get a cup of hot water. “Our Chinese guide told us this is because they consider it unhealthy to cool down the core of your body,” said Tom.

Another big difference is that one person orders food for everyone and the food is delivered to the center of the table and all eat from the center dishes. Tom was on a mission to find a fruit that he had heard of called Durian.

They found some in a market and brought it back to the dorm room. It proved to be so odiferous that it earned a place on the balcony for the rest of their stay.

Lance became very fond of a fruit called longan or Dragon’s eyes. He also ate chicken feet.

Longon or Dragon's Eye

Longon or Dragon's Eye

While jet lag was a problem with 13 hours of flight and 24 hours travel time to get there, both Lance and Tom would recommend getting to China for a visit if you possibly can.

Prof. Temple adds, “Perhaps the most transformative experience we can provide for our students during their entire undergraduate career is to arrange for them to spend at least a semester in another culture. Many students go to Western Europe, or Australia. But the opportunity to experience a very different culture, such as in Asia, can have a much greater impact on their overall awareness and perspectives.”

Some of the student’s fine photos of places they visited are available in the KSC China trip interactive map.
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Measuring Fair Trade

What makes a fair trade athletic shoe company better for the environment? What is certification in fair trade and when does it matter? How can a company regain control of its inventory?

Students in Tamara Stenn’s Integrated Quantitative Literacy class, Measuring Fair Trade, are answering these and other questions for real fair trade businesses.

Stenn chose the topic of fair trade based on discussions with her management students. Those students recommended fair trade as a topic that interested them. Stenn then interviewed 12 companies to see if they would be a good fit to work with students. She chose six, based on whether the company was open to suggestions and whether the managers were available to work with students.

Student teams worked with company staff to choose an issue or problem to work on.  Teams displayed their results in a website that they create using Google Sites. Some  of the companies will be linking to this student work from their own websites.

Tamara talks about the results of the student projects, both for students and the businesses.

Student Lauren Vignola’s enthusiasm for the class is obvious. She loved the project, working in a team and learning about fair trade from the inside out.