Students in the Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) program are required to complete at least 45 volunteer hours during their time in the United States in order to give back to the communities in which they are living and learning. Siyanda Xulu, a South African student currently studying project management at Edmonds Community College (EdCC), writes about his first experience volunteering through the EdCC Center for Service Learning.
In order to fulfill some of my required volunteer hours and to get more involved in the local community, I decided to participate in an activity coordinated by the Service Learning department at Edmonds Community College last weekend. I signed up for the activity on the department’s webpage. I met the other 10 Edmonds Community College volunteers on campus at 8:30 am.
Natalie drove us to Horizon Elementary School, which is approximately 20 minutes from Edmonds Community Campus. At the school, we met students from other colleges in Seattle including the University of Washington, as well as other people from the local community who decided to spend their time to make change in their area.
Once all of the volunteers had arrived, the Earth Corps facilitators took us through a quick ice breaker and taught us some basic safety measures such as how to use the tools, how to identify indigenous and alien berries, the importance of nature and the effect that alien plants can have on the local natural environment.
Our main task for the day was to extract a certain kind of alien blackberry. Why? Because Horizons Elementary School’s fifth grade students want to plant some indigenous trees and, in order for them to be able to do that, they have to remove these alien berries because they are harmful and they will harm whatever new plants the students may try to plant.
I learned a lot from this service learning activity. Before, I didn’t know different kinds of berries beside blackberries. I saw a salamander for the first time (an animal that looks like a lizard and eats a certain kind of American blackberries).
I’m very much impressed by these kid’s actions, especially at their age. They are not skeptical like us (adults) and they understand that nature is important and that if they ignore this climate change problem it will continue to affect them and the following generations. They’ve decided to stand up and do something about it. I think if more kids with a similar mindset can save the world.
When I go back to my country, South Africa I will make sure that to pay more attention to the minor things, because minor things are what cause the largest problems. I think it’s better to deal with the problems at the root cause instead of just trying to cure the symptoms. Resolving this epidemic requires everyone, young and old, in every corner of the globe because climate change affects us all.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S.Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.