December 3rd, 2019

In today’s fast paced society, it is easy to get caught up in the distractions of the world, social media and anything else that may be going on. Taking the time to learn more about yourself and how you contribute to the larger society has become increasingly less frequent of an activity. This fall, Abraxas LDP and Gettysburg College students had an opportunity to collaborate with one another in a course aimed at examining oneself.

On August 26th, six LDP students and twelve college freshman from Gettysburg College introduced themselves to one another in the first of fifteen classes titled, “You. An Experiential Inquiry.” The class was open to college freshmen as an elective course and LDP selected students who were in their junior and senior years of high school who had expressed interest in attending college in the future. Course facilitation was also a collaborative effort between two Gettysburg faculty members and two primary Experiential Learning supervisors from LDP.

Although students from LDP would not earn any college credits, they would be expected to complete the same course work as the Gettysburg students. This included reflective journaling, oral presentations, experiential activities participation and a final exam. The objectives for all students was clearly defined as an opportunity to learn from one another’s life experiences and be able to share those experiences with the communities from which they belong. This course challenged each member with gaining a better understanding of socio-cultural influences, community impact, moral development, critical thinking and social justice.

Through the first half of the course, students and faculty have both reported having an intense experience. The classes are not limited to the classroom, as students have been part of experiential activities that involved team building and problem solving on the challenge course, on hikes through the local forest and on the campus of Gettysburg College. Every Monday, the students meet at the pre-designated location to review course work and journal entries to help them prepare for their final presentations and reflections in December. Due to some youth discharging successfully from LDP, ten different youth have been able to participate in various aspects of the course. This experience has already encouraged many of the LDP youth to look at higher education more seriously than they did prior to admission.

The end of the semester is quickly approaching and LDP and Gettysburg College will review the benefits of the course for all members and the possibility of future courses. One of the most interesting quotes to help students understand the purpose of this joint venture comes from Kahne and Middaugh;

Participation in democracy does not occur instinctively nor does it develop organically. How we think, where we think and with whom we think matters.