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Service-Learning Pioneer Speaks at BC

"What I have to say may take a little while to digest," warned Dr. Nadinne Cruz. An internationally respected author, speaker, and activist, Cruz spoke at the Berea College Service Convocation on April 27, presenting her talk "Fighting vs. Weaving, Charity vs. Justice; on the urgency of negotiating differences in 'Walking Our Walk' toward a better world."

Dr. Nadinne Cruz speaks to the convocation audience.

A pioneer in service-learning, Nadinne Cruz spoke to the Berea College audience about the importance of "doing good," as well as the dangers that lie in making assumptions about what "good" is.

"We tend to demonize the other side, even when their intentions are good," said Cruz. It all comes down to "one's interpretations of my calling, your calling."

Cruz also noted, "There is injustice in the world, you have to be clueless not to notice," but added that you must consider your approach to the injustice: is it a cause to fight, or does fighting simply "replicate the world we are trying to change?" She then explained the idea of service-learning to the audience, and described it as "a form of inquiry into what is good to do." The inquiry takes place through both academic learning and active learning, as one seeks to work through problems with people from both or all sides of an issue.

While staying at the college, Cruz offered a service learning workshop in which she offered a more intimate discussion about "building strong partnerships between campuses and communities." She also wished to spend a day seeing "what makes Berea, Berea." She met many people on campus and asked questions to learn about Berea's approach to service-learning and the rest of the world. Cruz described Berea's goals as "bold."

"There is something unique here," Cruz said. She mentioned Berea College's Great Commitments, and said, "This college is a college founded on hope."

Originally from the Philippines, Nadinne Cruz has worked on advancing service-learning both nationally and internationally for more than two decades. She is a former Lang Professor of Social Change at Swarthmore College, where she piloted service-learning courses. In the 1980s and early 90s she served as executive director of the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs in St. Paul, Minn., and from 1994-2003 served first as associate director and then director of the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University. Under Cruzís guidance, the Haas Center developed model service programs that are replicated on other campuses. Along with Berea College, the Haas Center has been recognized in U.S. News and World Reportís most recent rankings as among the top ten colleges and universities in the country for service learning.

Cruz has received many awards and honors, including the 2005 Alec Dickson Servant Leader Award from the National Youth Leadership Council. The award honors exemplary leaders who have inspired the service-learning field, had a positive impact on youth and have motivated others to serve. Currently, Cruz serves as an educational consultant and mentor, and she is the co-author of "Service-Learning: A Movement's Pioneers Reflect on its Origins, Practice and Future."

This Berea College Service Convocation was co-sponsored by the Campus Christian Center, CELTS, and the Convocations Committee.

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