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ISA students "Make a Difference"

Making a Difference

Freshmen at the International School of the Americas (ISA) raised over $3,800 and spent nearly 1400 hours of their own free time working on this semester's service learning project, known as "Make a Difference."

Last January, following the president's State of the Union address, ISA freshman were asked to react, in their Digital and Interactive Media class, to quotes from the speech. In doing so, they identified issues (for example, high school dropouts, energy efficiency, scientific research funding, immigration, veteran benefits, equal pay) for which they had a personal passion. Then each class brainstormed additional topics, such as foster care, domestic violence, homelessness, and mental health. Each individual chose their six favorite topics, and, based on these choices, was placed in groups with like-minded others.

Once in their groups, they researched their topics using social bookmarking. To raise awareness of their issues, they launched public service campaigns, with websites, bumper stickers, and stop-motion animation public service announcements, which were shown on Lee TV (the weekly video announcements for the Lee campus). On March 20, each group presented their findings to the ISA community during a fair as part of the 20th Anniversary Celebration; over 1000 people attended.

Each group volunteered with an existing community organization, and then planned an original service project to raise money, collect donations, sponsor a letter-writing campaign or work directly with people affected by their issue. One group hosted a movie and craft night for the residents of the Battered Women's Shelter. Another raised money for a floating stage to be built on the Rio Grande in Laredo so musicians from both sides can perform for audiences without the complications of immigration status.

The mental health group collected and donated 350 books to a hospital that specializes in treating teens with mental illness. The group focusing on teen suicide helped build a mediation garden with SA's Health Collaborative. Another group, focusing on energy efficiency, scheduled a meeting with the contractors and engineers currently working to remodel our own school, in order to discuss energy efficient measures that could be incorporated in the design.

On Wednesday evening at Trinity University, each group will share their journey with an audience of their peers, family, and members of the community.

Posted on May 06, 2014