A living faith inspires us to help others. The University of Tulsa strongly encourages service to others.
Service-Learning Program in South Africa
The CIEE (Council for International Educational Exchange) South Africa program partners classroom learning with service projects.
TU “Service learning” programs combine service opportunities with academics, so that meeting the community’s needs is also a source for academic research.
Jordan Herskowitz, a University of Tulsa student from Plano, Texas, chose his study abroad trip to foster both academic and personal growth. For the academic component of his South Africa program, he took Afrikaans language and researched development courses. For the service component, he met the people living in the country and learned about their needs.
Herskowitz said that he often encountered children who said they had not eaten in a week. “A lot of these kids were abused, raped… emotionally and physically abused,” he said. “Some were living with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins because their parents… were on drugs.”
Taking a child out of an abusive situation is also problematic, he reported. “Even if they take the abuser to jail, then where does that child go?” He decided to become a role model for them and do what he could to make their lives better.
Herskowitz used his theater training from TU to design a drama program for children at a middle school. “Some of the kids had a lot of potential and talent,” he said. The group’s final project was a performance of Peter Pan. “They really loved it and had a lot of fun with it. They weren’t really shy at all,” he laughed.
Despite the moral and emotional challenges of his South African experience, Herskowitz has returned to TU with a new desire to serve. He articulated the parallels between the need in South Africa and the need in Tulsa.
“It’s important to remember that we all share those basic needs for human life. The truth of the matter is that there are people in downtown Tulsa and north Tulsa who are really bad off. I don’t have to travel to South Africa to find someone in need, and I think that anywhere we go, that’s going to be the case,” he said.
The University and Community Service Office coordinates University-affiliated community service and volunteer projects to the Tulsa community. Whether provided by faculty, students, or staff, the University encourages and supports service efforts. Individuals or groups wishing to consider such projects are encouraged to visit the office in Holmes Student Center, room 59 to explore ideas and discuss organizational procedures.
TU matches needs in the community and students with the drive to help. Recent projects have included collecting litter along river ways, growing vegetables for a local food bank, painting houses for elderly residents, tutoring elementary school children and building a Habitat for Humanity home.
There are currently two formal ways for students to get involved in community service through TU:
- College Work-Study - a certain number of these positions must take place in the community. TU has partnerships with 25 community agencies. Forty-nine students have been involved to date.
- Public Service Internship Program - designed for juniors and seniors to work 3-hour positions at nonprofit agencies. Eighty students have been partnered with 20 agencies to date; 9 students last year.