As college students, we often take technology for granted, but for older generations technology is an entirely different and mysterious world. Through St. Lawrence’s Community-Based Learning (CBL) program, I taught an introductory computer class, “Cyber Seniors,” through the Office for the Aging for senior citizens who haven’t had the opportunity to use computers before.
One of my favorite couples who enrolled were avid St. Lawrence hockey fans who were just as excited to chat with us about the upcoming games as they were to learn about computers. They were really excited to learn how to use Google and YouTube. Their eyes lit up when they listened to me explain that Google can find the answer to virtually any question you can imagine. They quickly started looking up statistics for specific SLU hockey players and using YouTube to search for videos of old game coverage. They were always showing me new videos of impressive hockey fights they had found and updating me on the latest college hockey rankings. Our relationship grew from that experience because now I see them at every home hockey game, cheering passionately for the Saints from their regular seats across from the student section. One of the best parts of volunteering in the community is the interactions like this that happen outside of the original volunteer setting.
Many St. Lawrence students experience the same feeling when they take part in a class with a CBL component. CBL is coordinated through the Center for Civic Engagement and is an additional part of many regular classes. Students take part in 20 hours of community service at one placement over the course of a semester in addition to their coursework. Ever since the spring of my freshman year when I had my first CBL with the Free Will Dinner Program, I have sought out classes with CBL components and now supervise three of the programs, including Cyber Seniors.
Whether it is bonding over hockey at Cyber Seniors, sharing a meal with the same family each week at Campus Kitchens or helping harvest vegetables at Bittersweet farm, CBL offers students more than just volunteer hours. Through CBL I have earned a greater appreciation for the Canton community, I have learned many new skills such as making Sheppard’s pie at Campus Kitchens and using a Smart Board at Cyber Seniors, and I have made friends with other students and community members who I would never have met otherwise. When I reflect on my four years at St. Lawrence these are some of the first and fondest memories that come to mind.