Candy. Ice breakers. Small group discussions. No, this was not orientation, but rather ‘A Day at Fairfield’ organized by the students in the Challenges in Global Politics class who chose to participate in service learning.

‘The day at Fairfield University was a great success,’ said Sharon Sanford, student enrichment coordinator at Mercy Learning Center (MLC). ‘It represented a real opportunity for the MLC students to envision themselves as college students. The group of students who attended are very close to achieving their GED certificate and going to college represents a new goal for them to work towards.’

Eleven students participated in the service learning project at the MLC in Bridgeport. Established in 1987, the MLC provides educational opportunities for women, many of whom are new to the United States and just beginning to learn English. The program allows for the women to earn their GED so they can get the best opportunities for themselves and their families. The Fairfield students volunteered in the classroom as teaching aides.

‘Leading up to our day at the University, several Fairfield University students worked as aides in our classrooms,’ said Sanford. ‘We appreciated their efforts and hopefully it helped them to understand the challenges faced by our women, who are balancing many responsibilities.’

The students in the GED class at MLC were invited to come to Fairfield to participate in the Challenges of Global Politics class. These women are a diverse group from the United States and various countries throughout the world. The class was led by Professor Ana Siscar and those participating in the service learning project. After a few ice breakers, Fairfield students and the women from MLC broke up into small groups to discuss the value of women getting an education. The groups came to the conclusion that all women deserve the right to receive an education so that they can improve not only their lives but the lives of those in their community.

The day at Fairfield was more than just giving the women from MLC the opportunity to see what a college class is like. The Fairfield students had the opportunity to learn from these women, who shared their amazing experiences to overcome obstacles and receive an education. A day at Fairfield turned into a day of learning for all those involved.

‘I am very proud of the Fairfield University students. Everybody was ready to help, participate and encourage participation from everybody, and learn from the Mercy Learning Center students. We ended the day feeling that we shared something very special,’ said Siscar.

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