It’s Valentine’s Day and love is in the air! Everyone is trying to find that perfect card or gift to show that one special person that they care.
The Foundations of Writing II class at Globe University-Minneapolis recently partnered with The Salvation Army Harbor Lights downtown Minneapolis and put some Valentine’s love into action while learning how to write. One way that makes people know you care is by listening to their story – everyone has a story, especially those living in a homeless shelter. Harbor Lights is one place that is full of people who are literally dying to have someone listen to their story.
The teacher, Jerry Hughes, had each student interview someone who was homeless and write a paper about their life. The students have been learning various ways to write and compose papers and this project was designed to take writing to a higher level by changing lives and learning at the same time.
There were more volunteers who wanted to share their life story than there were students to write them. The students were a bit nervous at first. They were not exactly sure what to ask in their interview and that was part of the learning experience. Mr. Hughes taught them the power of simply having an authentic conversation and how to listen without making it feel like a class project.
Corina Loya, a student in the class, said, “I was so nervous about how to interview someone I didn’t know and write about them, but I was humbled when I started listening to her story.”
During the interviews each student found that it wasn’t so difficult to get people to talk about themselves. As they asked one or two questions, each person was eager to share their life challenges. Some of the homeless shared about their childhood, sickness or the feeling that they were forgotten in life. They were so happy that someone had actually taken the time to just listen.
A requirement for the class project is that each student returns the final paper to the homeless person they interviewed. These papers are more than a grade or a project; they are showing how to care.
Through this project, one interview plus one paper changed two lives–the person who is homeless and the student. Student, Liezel Perez, said, “This project helped me to take pride in how I write, especially since I will return it to the person I interviewed – I will never forget this project.”
Showing people you care really doesn’t require a dozen roses or a diamond ring (even though they are nice) but as the Writing Class learned it can be accomplished one way – by listening to someone’s story. This is a Valentine’s gift that will last for a lifetime.
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