How to be Successful at Your Service-Learning Organization

Connor Dooley is a student at Saint Anselm College and an ISA Featured Blogger. He studied abroad through ISA Service Learning in Cartago, Costa Rica.

During my 4 week service-learning session in Costa Rica, I worked as a teacher assistant for a technology class. The school I worked at was called Colegio Miravalle, which loosely translates into English as Valley Sight School. The school is a bilingual school located in the quaint city of Cartago, which is about 25 km (16 mi) east of the capital, San Jose. The school caters to students from nursery to high school. I worked with grades 1 through 5, and these are the overall tips that helped me to be successful during my time working at Colegio Miravalle.

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Work hard. Your effort will not go unnoticed. Your fellow colleagues will appreciate that you are putting in all your effort to make a difference in your service-learning organization. The people you are working for will also recognize your hard work and will be grateful for it. Your colleagues know that what you are doing is not easy work, so they will appreciate the willingness and determination that you have in your service-learning organization.

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Be nice to everyone. Also keep in mind that kindness is not a one-way street. Treat others as you want to be treated because how you treat them will be reciprocated by them. If you are kind to the people that you are either working with or working for, they will be happy to work with you and you will be happy to work with them. Being kind to everyone in your service-learning organization will truly make you feel happy and welcome there.

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Make friends with your fellow colleagues at your service-learning organization. To be nice to the people you work with is not enough; you should also become friends with them. You have to work with these people for several days of the week, so why not become friendly with them? Make small talk with them and contact them outside of work via Facebook, Skype, WhatsApp, etc. This will allow you to be close enough with them to be able to hang out with them after work.


Be sure to learn something from your experience at your service-learning organization. Remember that you are there not only to help at your service-learning organization; you are also there to gather something from the experience. Keep track of your ideas in a journal or a blog. What you write down could be important lessons to take away from your experience. The lessons can also be gathered by reviewing and reflecting on photos and videos you have from your service-learning organization

Good luck and safe travels!

The world awaits…discover it.

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