American Samoa Community College started this Service Learning Program in the Summer of 2001, when students from the English Language Institute Department piloted a reading program for the Tongan Community. In addition, the Social Science Department started their “E.T.U.A.L.E. Project” for the Nazareth Home at Fatu-o-Aiga. Other college departments have also extended Service Learning activities to other parts of the community.
Service Learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.
Service Learning combines service objectives with learning objectives with the intent that the activity changes both the recipient and the provider of the service. This is accomplished by combining service tasks with structured opportunities that link the task to self-reflection, self-discovery, and the acquisition and comprehension of values, skills, and knowledge content.
The characteristics of Service Learning are:
Links to academic content and standards
Involves young people in helping to determine and meet real, defined community needs
Is reciprocal in nature, benefiting both the community and the service providers by combining a service experience with a learning experience
Can be used in any subject area so long as it is appropriate to learning goal
Works at all ages, even among young children
They are positive, meaningful and real to the participants
They involve cooperative rather than competitive experiences and thus promote skills associated with teamwork and community involvement and citizenship.