Stevie Munz

"When I began teaching our COMM 319G Communicating Across Cultures course, I also began my service-learning journey. I believe deeply in the positive power of understanding the lived realities of folks who seem different from our own experiences. The beauty of service-learning is it provides a means for us to shift our understanding, complicate how we think about identity/ies, and broaden our knowledge about culture, diversity, inclusion, and access. Students in my courses work with refugees, food and housing insecurity, the English Language Club, as well as literacy communities and learn how difference matters in their communities and neighborhoods. Through the years, I have found some of the most powerful teaching experiences have come through service-learning as I witness students link textbook content to everyday social and cultural challenges in their communities."


Below are a few student narratives:

"From my service hours, I have gained a desire to become a regular volunteer at the foodbank. I appreciate so much that they give back to the community so eagerly and it makes it a rewarding and nice place to volunteer. I feel like it's also helped me understand socioeconomic class and race. This experience has moved me to ask more questions to help me understand my own ignorance and assumptions."

"My service hours have helped me see connections between our class content and other communication classes which I think is cool.  The longer I have been volunteering the more that I have seen uncertainty reduction theory come into play from the students perspective.  It has been pretty apparent to me that a lot of the students have trust issues and it has taken a while to reduce their uncertainty about me."

"Learning English is hard! The only challenge I face is we meet near the end of the day and they have been straining their ears and their brains all day learning English, and I can tell our visits take a lot of concentration. To combat this, I invited my English Club buddy to make caramel apples with me! I introduced her to the American idea of “fall activities”. She enjoyed the caramel apple, and wants to visit a pumpkin patch soon. While we were cooking the caramel, she automatically stepped in to assist with cleanup and dishes. Maybe it is the age of people I associate with, but this is very uncommon in my experience. I notice people generally offer help when the host or hostess is elderly, and not when they are peers. However, my buddy said she always helps with dishes, as it is associated with the role of women in Haiti. That is definitely a theme we share in the states. Though there is nothing inherently feminine about dishes, we ascribe that role to the women. It was fascinating to see that pattern cross cultures."