Purdue Students Pick Up on Civic Reflection

25 Purdue student leaders receive hands-on facilitator training from Valpo students

Apr 20 2015
Purdue facilitator training

In an exciting example of student-to-student learning, 25 Purdue University student leaders recently received hands-on civic reflection facilitator training from a group of Valpo students and staff.  The new facilitators plan to integrate civic reflection into their service organizations, Spring Break service trips, retreats, and freshman orientation.

The facilitator training led by the Valpo students was part of a weekend retreat for Purdue student leaders, held at Camp Tecumseh in Brookston, Indiana on March 27-28. Purdue’s Assistant Dean of Civic Engagement and Leadership Development, Melissa Gruver, and her colleague Brianne Rogers attended a Center for Civic Reflection facilitation training at Valparaiso University in June 2014.  Explains Gruver, “After a few semesters of integrating the civic reflection model into our leadership courses and officer meetings, we wanted out student leaders to incorporate the model in their programs and student organizations in a very intentional way.”

The mini-training included a model discussion and debrief, discussion planning sessions, small group discussions led by the facilitators in training, and an opportunity to brainstorm about “making it happen” with their own organizations.  The model discussion used Martin Espada’s poem “Imagine the Angels of Bread." The poem inspired a discussion of what it means to imagine a society different from and better than the one we live in now. Participants led small group discussion of other civic reflection favorites, including “The Helmsman,” “A Bed for the Night,” and “Gate A-4.”

The participants, mainly science and engineering majors, were excited about the chance to reflect on their service using poems and stories. Notes Ali DeVries, the program coordinator for Valparaiso University’s Institute for Leadership and Service, “The practice of civic reflection was more foreign to them [than to humanities majors], but they were really hungry for it and talked about how they don’t get to reflect this way in their STEM classes.”

Two Valparaiso University undergraduates, Caleb Rollins and Danielle Slowik, co-led the training with DeVries. Rollins and Slowik were trained as civic reflection facilitators when they took a course on Contemporary Issues in Philanthropy and Service, taught by CCR director Dr. Elizabeth Lynn.

For Rollins, it was a challenge to model strong facilitation skills with a group he had never met before.  Despite the initial discomfort, he said, “I was able to overcome this challenge through strong planning and more importantly because we were with a very reflective and deep-thinking group of students. The most personally rewarding part of the training was learning some ways I could improve my own facilitation skills.  Sharing the practice with some of my peers in the state of Indiana was a true privilege, and I hope the students we led in the training gained as much from the experience as I did.” 

Slowik described being a trainer for the first time as “really fun and a lot simpler than expected,” adding, “It’s so great to see the ideas of civic reflection spread to students and organizations everywhere!”

The Center for Civic Reflection congratulates the cohort of new student facilitators at Purdue. We welcome you and hope that you’ll share your experiences with us!

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