In January of 2015, my friend Mr. Bill Palin, a lawyer in Boston calls my cell. “Hey Greg, I just finished helping teach this course at MIT. The level of sophistication is really not that great, you should run this class at your school.”
MIT offers an assistive technology course. Teams of students work with agencies to assess the needs of constituents. While working with the agency, the team creates a product that will help address those needs.
With the help of Rockhurst’s new service coordinator Max Magee, the STEAM initiative partnered with two agencies that will endeavor to take on this idea. Eight students will be working with adult students at the Don Bosco Center (Teaching English as a Second Language with refugees and immigrants) and four will be working with residents of Claridge Court (Working one on one and coordinating community activities with the elderly).
Maybe the students will create an app that will help translation needs. Maybe they will develop an online tutorial that will help the elderly community learn how to use an iPad. Who knows what will happen. The exciting (and a bit scary) reality will be that Rockhurst students will exhibit some entrepreneurship and decide on their own.
“Listen, this idea doesn’t work at all unless relationships are formed with the people you are helping” insisted Mr. Palin over the phone. This is why I am so excited about the idea. Through forming relationships and truly learning the needs of the community they are serving, the students can put love and justice in action. Our students accomplish great things academically; STEAM hopes to apply those skills through Rockhurst’s commitment to justice through service.