When people hear the words “community service,” they usually think of soup kitchens, food drives, or mission trips to third world countries. However, La Sierra University strives to instill a sense of servitude in all of their students with unexpected, but simple, ways to give back. Service Learning is a form of community service that La Sierra incorporates into various classes as a way to supplement the course while responding to the needs of the community. One example of a Service Learning course is Drama Appreciation.
Many students might hesitate to take a class that involves playwriting and acting, and I was the same. However, the beauty of the class was that everyone was in the same boat, so as we all got to know each other, the more comfortable we became and the easier it was to be on stage. The Service Learning component of the class was to put on a play for third graders from Stokoe Elementary School. During the quarter, we learned the basics of stage direction and theater production, rewrote our favorite children’s stories into plays, and rehearsed our favorite ones in preparation for our live performance. On the big day, we made last minute preparations and waited for our audience. When the students flooded through the double doors into Matheson Hall, their raw excitement could be felt. The audience was seated, the lights dimmed, and our production began.
I was Stepsister #2 in Cinderella; Thing 1 in Green Eggs and Ham; Girl 1 in Goldilocks and the Three Bears. And by the time the lights were turned back on, I was buzzing with a slight tingle of adrenaline and nerves, the byproduct of having a spotlight shining down on me. While I was simply doing what I needed to do in order to successfully complete the class, I also ended up having fun and was rewarded by seeing the joy that theater can bring to young children. As a class, we were also able to raise enough money to buy a book for every third grader in the audience, sharing with them the art of theater as well as the gift of literature.
At the end of the course, I realized that the act of service and the gift of giving comes in many shapes and sizes. La Sierra not only gave me the opportunity to learn something new about drama and theater, but it also helped me give back to the local community, and that is exactly what Service Learning is all about.