Service Learning- in the USA

What is Service Learning?

Most of BARKA’s educational work in the USA falls under service learning. “Service Learning” is an experiential learning approach that takes learning outside of the classroom and into the community. It combines learning objectives with community service. It provides a practical, progressive learning experience while meeting social needs. It is a form of experiential learning.

Partnering with a School

BARKA’s co-founders have given presentations at Harvard University, MIT, Williams College, Endicott College, and dozens of high schools, middle schools and elementary schools. These encounters have led to specific actions with classes, clubs, entire schools and even the wider community to raise awareness of life and issues in Burkina and also to raise funds for projects such as well drilling, micro-loans to women, and school construction. BARKA has worked with schools in a wide array of subjects including French, women’s studies, geography, art, music, global village, social studies, math, dance, filmmaking, theatre, etc. Often BARKA will partner with a school club or extra-curricular activity, such as the Interact or Rotaract club, environmental club, science team, women’s empowerment and interfaith initiatives to name just a few. Our relationship with each school is different and often continues for years. Whenever possible, BARKA likes to form long-lasting relationships with schools, so that there’s enough time for BARKA’s co-founders to return to demonstrate the impact they have had on people in Burkina. This kind of follow-through is rare and makes all the difference in a student’s mind.

Developing Cultural Competence, Planetary Responsibility and Global Citizenship

BARKA is able to do something unique which is to create and facilitate a very personal connection between students in the US and students in Burkina. BARKA’s co-founders have visited almost every school with which BARKA has worked. They enable US students to make an immediate and intimate connection with the people and work on the ground. In many cases, direct communication between students in America and students in Burkina Faso has been made, increasingly through technology and social media. Some students have even traveled to Burkina Faso to follow through on the connections created via BARKA’s educational work in the USA. These kinds of interactions have the potential to change lives forever. They help make the world smaller and enable the realization that humans are all part of one family. BARKA’s educational initiatives also develop leadership potential. They provide students with opportunities to lead, both in the classroom and beyond.

Case Studies

Swampscott High School, MA: For several years BARKA has worked with the school’s Interact Club, French and Art classes on a wide range of projects including a photo exchange with students in Burkina, a letter exchange on a “wiki” that Swampscott science students created, and a wide array of fundraisers to support computer literacy in high schools in Burkina Faso.

John Bapst High School, ME: After BARKA’s co-founders spoke to the school assembly several years ago, the Student Environmental Action Club (SEAC) organized a walk for water. This developed into the annual 5k Peace, Water & Wisdom race, an event that attracts people from around the state and has been taking place for the past 5 years.

Gabriel Abbott Memorial School, MA: One educator at Gabriel Abbott organized her entire school in an inter-disciplinary project entitled “Water, Water Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink”. All grades K-8 got involved in different and unique ways with issues of Africa and water culminating in a big community awareness night. The special event featured African food, drumming (younger students integrated math with drumming lessons), dancing, original student art, science experiments involving filtration, a study about the environmental impact of bottled water, and a film which 8th graders created to document the entire process. This ultra-creative action was written up in two local newspapers.

iBerkshires; School Project Takes Abbott Kids into Deep Water

The Berkshire Eagle: Unbottled Education

Interested in having your school or community make direct connections with counterparts in Burkina Faso? Want help organizing a walk for water? Have a BARKA rep or its co-founders visit (or skype with) your school or community for a personal presentation of how to get involved. Click here for more information.