By Greg Mellas
More than 80 students went through training and orientation last month to participate in Project SHINE (Students Helping In the Naturalization of Elders.) This semester marks the 10th year that MCTC students are engaging in learning and service with immigrant communities through Project SHINE.
A collaborative initiative between MCTC and Metropolitan State University, Project SHINE links students with adult immigrant and refugee learners at community-based organizations throughout the Twin Cities. Since the local program started in 2001, over 1,100 students have engaged in more than 21,000 hours of service learning* through Project SHINE.
MCTC students work as English language tutors, coach learners for the naturalization exam and support new Americans as they navigate the complex path to U.S. citizenship. Instructors from a range of disciplines have integrated Project SHINE into their curricula to provide students with a powerful opportunity to deepen their theoretical understanding and connect their academic studies to real community issues beyond the classroom.
Students value the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of their own and other cultures, a deeper appreciation of the meaning of citizenship, and the opportunity to become more actively engaged in their communities while helping new Americans do the same.
*Service learning is an active pedagogy which integrates community-based action and service with academic instruction and reflection to deepen content knowledge, promote civic responsibility and critical thinking, and strengthen communities. A growing body of research recognizes the benefits of service-learning as an effective strategy to: improve academic achievement, increase student engagement, improve social behavior, build civic skills and strengthen community partnerships (www.learnandserve.gov).