Community service in the US

(VOVWORLD) -Have you done any community service? Do you think that community service should be compulsory especially for students? Whether you agree or disagree, let’s listen to Preston Simmons, an English teacher from West Virginia talking about Community service in the US.

Hi Preston! Welcome to our show! Could you give us a brief description of what community service in the US is?

Community service is a non-paying job performed by one person or a group of people for the benefit of the community or its institutions. Community service is distinct from volunteering, since it is not always performed on a voluntary basis. Personal benefits may be realized, but it may be performed for a variety of reasons.

Is community service compulsory for high school in the US?

Some schools in the United States require students to perform community service hours to graduate from high school. In some high schools in Washington, for example, students must finish 200 hours of community service to get a diploma. Many other high schools do not require community service hours for graduation, but still see an impressive number of students get involved in their community. For example, in Palo Alto, California, students at Palo Alto High School log about 45,000 hours of community service every year. As a result, the school's College and Career Center awards about 250–300 students the President's Volunteer Service Award every year for their hard work.

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How about community service for college students?

Though not technically considered a requirement, many colleges include community service as an unofficial requirement for acceptance. However, some colleges prefer work experience over community service, and some require that their students also continue community service for some specific number of hours to graduate. Some schools also offer unique “community service” courses, awarding credit to students who complete a certain number of community service hours.

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I have heard about “community service learning” in the US. So what is the difference between community service and "community service learning”?

Some school districts in Washington, including Seattle Public Schools, differentiate between community service and "community service learning," requiring students to demonstrate that their work has contributed to their education.

Community service-learning is “about leadership development as well as traditional information and skill acquisition”. Therefore, the combination of people doing service and learning at the same time teaches them how to be effective and, more importantly, how to be effective about what is important to them. It improves their overall experience and application opportunities they gain from it. By adding service to learning, and balancing the two, community service can become more than just the simple act of serving. It takes small steps to create big changes and this is what service-learning hopes to achieve. By being a classroom, a hands-on learning experience, and an opportunity to change the community, people are able to not only serve others, but impact themselves as well.

Thank you very much, Preston for talking to us today about community service. Next week, we’ll share some more interesting tidbits about American culture.