Welcome to Learning in Action

Course Description

In our courses, we gain a wide variety of knowledge about community issues/needs. However, often we lack sufficient opportunities to directly engage these issues and miss out on the unique and important experiential learning inherent in such work. This course is a 4-credit, 300-level UNST course that fulfills one of your UNST Cluster requirements through an applied learning experience based on the approaches, theories, and practices of your cluster. The clusters eligible for this class are: Popular Culture; Leading Social Change; Knowledge, Values, and Rationality; Gender and Sexuality; Healthy People/Healthy Places, and Families and Society.

As part of this course, you will participate in a relevant community internship (in the form of a traditional internship or a volunteer placement). You may continue pre-existing work you are doing with a community organization if you are already engaged in such. In addition to the direct experience of working on one of the many issues raised in the course of your studies in your UNST Cluster, you will also participate in an online class space with your instructor and peers. This complementary experience will allow you to reflect on your experience, inquire critically about social issues, and integrate what you’ve learned from your experience with what you’ve learned in your coursework.

This course is a space to reflect on and look at the community internship work you are doing so that we can better participate in that work, create community to support one another, develop plans for continued engagement at and beyond the university, and understand the connections between the work and larger UNST and Cluster goals. Students will be required to find a community internship before the course starts and should use this website to explore resources in the For Students section for assistance. Students who have not found an appropriate volunteer position or internship by the end of week 2 must drop the course.

Community Internship

A Community Internship is a form of experiential learning that can take place within a nonprofit, community-serving organization, an educational institution, or governmental agency.  It is a short-term work experience, most likely as a volunteer, that allows students to integrate the knowledge and theory learned through their academic coursework with practical, hands-on experience in a real-world setting.  Community Internships are meant to include substantive learning and engagement opportunities and provide the intern with an in-depth understanding of the organization and the communities it serves. For the purposes of this course, community internships will be those that work to address specific community issues with their efforts.

Community internships may be paid or unpaid, and in either case will be highly educational in nature and supervised or mentored by a professional. Students should plan to work with their community partner 3 – 10 hours per week throughout the term, and spend between 2 – 5 hours on course work each week.




It’s A Small Small World

Hello! I am Lifia Teguh, a piano performance major at Portland State University from Indonesia. I am also the President of PERMIAS PDX (Indonesian Students Association of USA-Portland) and an International Cultural Services Program (ICSP) at PSU.

Being involved in sharing my culture to the community through those two organizations have been unforgettable to me. It is such a privilege to be an ambassador of my country. It is also very fun because not only I can talk to other people about my background, but I can share the experience of making Indonesian music together.

Here are some of the highlights working as an agent of diversity:

  1. Taught around 200 audiences to play angklung at Indonesian Night 2016: SEJARI which was organized by PERMIAS PDX.


2. Compose and arrange Indonesian traditional music and collaborated with Americans to play them!


3. Had a gig at Lansu Chinese Garden as well as having fun with your peers while doing something meaningful: sharing the joy of playing music with others.

More information about PERMIAS PDX can be found at Facebook: PERMIAS PDX, Youtube channel: PERMIAS PDX, instagram and snapchat: @permiaspdx, and more information about my works can be found at lifiateguh.weebly.com.



This term I had a great opportunity to work with my community partner, New Season Christian Church. Before I used to think church people were religious but working with my community partner I came to realize that they are not religious but they live to preach the good news to all men kind. They do so through love and showing the same grace that was granted to them. They are one of the most down to earth people that I have ever come across to. Working with my community partner showed me how wrong I was about many things in life.

They have been around for a long time. They have people who are really educated with PhDs and masters degrees. Many of them work at the well-known company like intel, Microsoft, apple, the government, and so forth. Looking at them I kept asking myself what was the reason why they would come to church. They told me the church is a hospital for messed up, people.  This was true because most of the people who came there to get help were really destroyed physically and internally. This really fascinated me because I always thought Christian were these weird people who are just unethical. But, I came to realize that I and most of the people in this generation are wrong for making that assumption.

For this reason, is why I decided to continue on with this subject of why we need our fathers back for my public project. One thing I learned at my community partner is order. Everything they do is in order, whether at their home or at work. Even in their families, they have a structure, father, mother, and kids. So, I asked them why can’t women be a leader in the house? They answered who told you women are not a leader? They explained and said this generation has gotten everything backward. They gave me a simple example and said physically between man and women who’s stronger? I said a man and they asked me why? I said because they have bigger muscles. Then they told men are the head of the house they have muscles to protect, guide, lead, and serve the family. They are the foundation of the house. If anything in the house is destroyed is because lack to fulfill their responsibility. They also told me that women are also leaders but in a different way. But, for the house to stand you need both men and women to agree. So, I came to see that the reason why there are many divorces, and a broken marriage, and families are because many men have failed to do their responsibility.

The reason why I have written this paper is to try to illuminate people on why we need fathers/men back home. Speaking from a personal experience, we are living in a most confused generation ever. Men are confused if they are men, and women are confused if they are women. We have confused emotional, sympathetic, generation, where people get offend by anything. This is not good for our generation moving forward. I remember growing up my mom always used to be the “homie”, or best friend. Even though I knew I did something wrong I can run to my mom and she will be more emotionally supportive. But, dad was the law enforcer in the house, because if you messed up you had to get the punishment that you deserve and it did not matter how bad it looked. But, he did it all in love. My dad set the standard in the house of how a man supposes to live, act, dress, and even think. So, my dad was my hero someone who I wanted to become like when grew up. He was really tough on us, and that toughness really translated as we have grown into men and women. We can now withstand anything because we have a great authentic foundation. Mom also played a huge role in our lives, but dad got us back in order.

Now looking at people in this generation its just a joke, people do not know how to treat men or a woman. Young men and young women do not know how to be authentic to their gender. According to Children’s Living Arrangements and Characteristics, state that “kids from fatherless homes are more likely to be poor, become involved in drug and alcohol abuse, drop out of school, and suffer from health and emotional problems. Boys are more likely to become involved in crime, and girls are more likely to become pregnant as teens. “This illustrate the result of not having a father in the house. This is not to show that fathers are better than the mother, but they play a vital role in the house.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stated that “children living in female-headed families with no spouse present had a poverty rate of 47.6 percent.” This statement helped me to think back on what my community partners told me. They said poverty sometimes can be the factor of evil in many families. No matter how loving the family is if poverty rules, the future of the family is uncertain.  People only think about the poverty of not having food and place to sleep. But, many people are poor in the mind. They have no tradition and are not accountable to anything. Fathers do the dirty work, dig the ground plant the seeds. But, mothers come and water the plants with care and love. This is the reason why we need our fathers back. Their so many young men and young women who are not broken yet, because in order to grow, you have to be broken.

The United States is the world’s leader in incarceration with 2.2 million people currently in prisons, 93.4% of 2.2 are men. This is not safe for a nation moving forward. We do not want to have a nation full people who are educated but do not value life. Studies also show that “Father involvement in schools is associated with the higher likelihood of a student getting mostly A’s.” Once again all these examples are trying to illustrate the importance of the father in our society. Society will not be strong and grow without fathers. I don’t believe that men and women are equal because as an engineering student who have to take chemistry and biology I can prove that this is wrong. Men and women are both special and different. We as a nation we can not afford to put men and women in the same category because it’s like trying to mix water and oil, saying they are the same because they are all liquid. What I want to do in this paper is to illuminate people on how both men and women need to play their authentic role in order to diminish, the poverty, violence, incarceration rate, and increase the well-being of people. No country runs with this country to be stronger and better.



Works Cited

Source: Teachman, Jay D. “The Childhood Living Arrangements of Children and the Characteristics of Their Marriages.” Journal of Family Issues 25 (January 2004): 86-111.

Source: Hendricks, C.S., Cesario, S.K., Murdaugh, C., Gibbons, M.E., Servonsky, E.J., Bobadilla, R.V., Hendricks, D.L., Spencer-Morgan, B., & Tavakoli, A. (2005)

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; ASEP Issue Brief: Information on Poverty and Income Statistics. September 12, 2012




Aging Gracefully

Having spent this past term volunteering at Cascade Park Retirement Community has given me a new perspective on the elderly living in a retirement community. The key to running a successful retirement home in which both staff and residents are benefitted mutually takes a great deal of communication on behalf of the staff members. While staff members went about their daily doings with the residents, I was fortunate enough to have some one on one time with a few of the residents. I found that their experiences in life were full of wisdom about growing up and the different stages that go along with maturing.

The day-to-day tasks performed by the 30 staff members are well planned and executed each day. They are highly focused and goal-orientated, each performing specific duties. I noticed the amount of communicating taking place between pharmacists who would triple check dosages of medication for example, or having check-off sheets between each other to make sure they were being as productive as possible. In being so efficient in their specific work, I found that there wasn’t much time for conversation between residents and staff. Human interaction is so vital for our mental health at any age; perhaps if there were more staff members or even volunteers, there would be a lot more conversation flowing. The facility has done a great job in setting a high standard for the code of ethics and policies for their employees, but they should just as equally focus on the family aspect of working at such a place.

During the 8 hours I would spend at the retirement home each week, I would often have the chance to listen to some thought provoking experiences the residents had. They were beautiful in how honest and human they were. Some had a lesson associated with it; others were incredibly funny in their irony. The one common trait all of these stories shared was how vividly they were able to recount specific details. They would create a visual for the listener through the words they spoke. I think that is profound in showing just how valuable human experiences are, and how much of an impact they have on us when we get older.

I’m grateful for this opportunity that was given to me. It was a departure from my usual interactions with people. I don’t typically find myself speaking very much with older individuals. My concerns of not having anything to talk about or being too shy to have a full conversation were put to rest in this environment. This is so because it forced me to get out of my own comfort zone and partake in meaningful conversations with older people. In that sense, I feel I benefitted from having volunteered at the Cascade Park Retirement Community.

ron hagen silhouette

Spreading the Word: We All Need Help!

Volunteering at Kaiser Westside has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had. When coming into this community, I thought that volunteering would be simple, and was another requirement fulfilled for school. However, with the various readings that we were given, and connecting it to volunteering, it helped made my experience much more meaningful.

As a volunteer on the Med-Surg floor, my job was to answer calls from both the main line of hospital and the specific floor line of the hospital. It was also my job to open the door for visitors and for people who are exiting.

Most of the time, it was a very hectic and stressful environment because I wanted to help all the patients as immediately and as well as I can, but I can’t always do that, because there were so many other tasks that had to be accomplished. This experience made me realize that there was a huge need for volunteers at Kaiser Permanente. Although it seems like a hospital may attract a lot of volunteers, it is quite the opposite. The lack of help and staff members makes it hard to give enough attention and care to each patient, as well as help each patient as much as possible. For example, if I were to leave my position at the CPA desk to find someone else, another person could come in, and I would miss the opportunity to help them.

Overall, it was still pleasant experience. Both the hospital staff and patients was so kind to me and my interaction with them helped me learn how to communicate with them. I learned that every small task accomplished lightens their load. The staff has so much to take care of, and plenty of things to remember. So having a volunteer helps them out a lot.

My favorite part about volunteering at the Med-Surg floor is being able to interact people. I had a patient who thanked me for helping her. These kind of interactions made my day and gave me a reason to come back and volunteer. At the end of the day, I will most likely come back to and volunteer again and will continue to do so. Knowing that I want to go into medicine, being a volunteer at a hospital gave me a way to contribute to the community and the healthcare.

Afterschool Programs

Low-income students are six times more likely to drop out of high school. Low-income students fail to graduate at five times the rate of middle-income families and six times that of higher-income youth, according to a recent study by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

The reason for this is that children in low-income households in the US see a long lasting negative effect on their lives, due to lack of social services and the long hours parents must spend working. At the same time low income families have seen their living standards worsen and children are experiencing worsening conditions in their schools.

With escalating attacks on the public school system, hundreds of thousands of teachers have been laid off, thousands of schools closed , and millions of students pushed into overcapacity classrooms and lack the attention needed to succeed. These circumstances effect children in the poorest families the most.

Low-wage parents are working non-standard work hours, inflexible work times, without medical benefits or paid vacation. These parents are often sacrificing time with their kids  to performs the necessary jobs that run our society leaving them with very little energy, time and money to devote to families or themselves which causes stress and other problems.

Effective afterschool programs bring a wide range of benefits to low income youth, families and communities. Afterschool programs can boost academic performance, reduce risky behaviors, promote physical health, and provide a safe, structured environment for the children of working parents. Effective afterschool programs can improve classroom behavior, school attendance, academic aspirations, and can reduce drop out rates. Working families and businesses also derive benefits from afterschool programs that ensure that youth have a safe place to go while parents are at work. Parents concerned about their children’s afterschool care miss a lot of work when their children do not have a safe place to go to after school.

Looking Toward The Future

This past term I have volunteered at an English Language Learning (ELL) classroom at Oak Grove Elementary. At my time volunteering I learned so many useful tools knowing that someday I will be teaching my own class in the near future. I gained so much knowledge and experience over this last 10 weeks. Working with Mrs. Bourgeois in her classroom, teaching English to students who have unfortunately not learned English. I meet with a student who just came over from Dominican republic, who does not really totally understand English and cant read. I worked with him at the school, speaking to the student in Spanish and trying to describe our rules and English langue to the student best I could in his native tongue to help him understand our weird langue. I have had the honor to observe Mrs. Bourgeois for the best 10 weeks and its been so much fun. Teaching ELL is so important at the elementary school level. Young kids just soak up all the new grammar rules and she is so patient with the students. At her time teaching at the school she has had many student leave the ELL program because she is doing such a great job. The students reading levels have shot up because of her great dedication to the kids. Her job is so important and the state knows it, the state just gave a huge grant to Mrs. bourgeois and her hard work has been really paying off.

Absenteeism at David Douglas High School

David Douglas cafeteria with flags of students’ birth countries

According to the Oregonian (2014), 24% of Oregon high school students are considered chronically absent due to missing 10% or more of classes. Through my own calculations I found that approximately 22% of all students at David Douglas High School in SE Portland have an attendance rate below 90%. Through Oregon Campus Compact, an organization connecting college students with participation in civic life, I was able to enter the Connect2Complete K12 program with AmeriCorps to address this issue of absenteeism at David Douglas High School.

Originally I had planned to post a promotional video for battling absenteeism, but unfortunately that couldn’t be completed in time for this class. However, it will be completed at the end of April to be shown to the whole school. Instead I will be sharing a personal reflection on my service.

Working at David Douglas has been one of the best experiences of my college career. As an aspiring educator, I’ve gained a lot of valuable experience working with these students, but even more valuable than the experience I’ve gained is the relationships formed with these young adults. David Douglas has a large amount of low-income students and because I’m majoring in Spanish, I was assigned to work with Hispanic students. I would go around checking on my students throughout the afternoon and try to get to know them. Some common themes I’ve found so far with my students include: not being involved in extracurriculars like sports or clubs, low GPAs, and having schedule conflicts (due to family situations, counseling, health issues, etc.). However, another common theme is that most of them want to go to college; so I know that they value their education, but maybe some other factors are preventing them from coming to class. I think that talking to these students and creating a relationship has made an impact on their attendance and many students’ attendance rates have improved. Attendance has a large impact on students’ grades and futures and I will continue to learn about this complex issue throughout the rest of my service.

I would recommend this class to anyone who is looking for something more than lectures and a textbook. One of the reasons I took this class was because I wanted to take what I was learning in the classroom and take it outside of the classroom into the real world. What I got out of the class has been so much larger than that. This class is really student-centered and there is a significant opportunity for growth in a way that actually matters.

Searching for a better parent: WT UNST Sunny Rodriguez

Latino Network mission: Latino Network provides transformative opportunities, services, and advocacy for the education, leadership and civic engagement of our youth, families and communities.

For my Community Public Action Plan I am focusing on the parent aspect of my community internship with the Latino Network. Volunteering with the Latino Network, I have been a floater for the past month and I have been working with a client. She has been involved with the program due to her son and am now helping educate her to use the computer and learn how to type and use the web. I work with her one on one and continue to see her progress though the term. I also was a part of the youth classes that influences them to choose better choices but most of all strive to be the best and succeed in school. Additionally I was a part of Chi, which was the parent class sessions that helped educate the parents who had children in the programs or had friends in the program and wanted to be a part of it to prevent from it happening to their children.

This course helped me open my perspective to help, but most of all is of help to give resources when I don’t know or find other ways to assist. The Latino Network is and continues to be located in a low income minority community with high rates of crime. This lead me to want to address the factual context behind youth individual involvement at a young age or parent influences that lead to those negative behaviors. Understanding this aspect through the term has been my goal and personally I feel that parents have a lot to do with their children’s behaviors. Working in a correctional facility I’ve been able to make a connection and understand that parents have a lot of influence and can potentially prevent negative issues to their children by being more aware, supportive, understanding but most of all be the parent and love them.