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April 14, 2011 / HandsOnCorps

Service-Learning and Youth Voice in NYC

My work as an AmeriCorps National Direct member revolves around generationOn’s Service Leader Pilot Initiative, which strives to bring sustainable service-learning to schools across the nation. I work closely with two additional National Direct members to implement our program; each member works with a different population (teachers, students, and parents). In addition to providing support to schools while they integrate service-learning into their school culture, I work with students pre-k through 12 to ensure youth voice is represented and (hopefully) growing for each service-learning lesson and project.

Service and education have been interests of mine for a long while, and this job has allowed me to get direct experience working in the largest (and very complex, often confusing) school system in the United States through service-learning. The nature of my work has exposed me to experiences, resources, research, and literature concerning education and youth voice that I probably wouldn’t have ever seen had I not been an AmeriCorps member.

The process of engaging students to become active, vested members of their communities is an amazing one to watch. Students genuinely get excited planning and enacting their service projects. When our lessons and projects are over, kids recount their service in such a happy, positive light. The pilot nature of my program allows me to adjust and rework youth voice so that it works with each individual student and each school.

Working through a pilot (and all of its inevitable quirks) can be difficult. Some days are a battle against piles of paperwork, evaluation materials, deadlines, and static communication.  I realize that all the paperwork and snags will only allow this program to become more stable and cohesive for the next school year. Though my work is frequently challenging, it’s exciting to know what I do will yield analytical data for service-learning, will engage youth in their communities, and help solve problems in our neighborhoods.

Karen Hobowsky

Youth Service Leader Coordinator, National Direct


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