Georgia Perimeter College (GPC) stands by the notion that serving and learning go hand in hand—so much so that they’ve opened a center dedicated to it.
The Atlanta Center for Civic Engagement and Service-Learning opened on Feb. 15 on the Clarkston campus of GPC with a ribbon cutting and a program that featured a former president.
Former President Jimmy Carter joined GPC President Anthony S. Tricoli and Erroll B. Davis Jr., chancellor of the University System of Georgia, as well as Tracey Knight, executive director of the center, and Deborah Gonzalez, associate vice president for civic engagement, service learning and academic affairs, to officially open the center.
Knight explained that through the center students’ educational experiences will be heightened by applying classroom theory to real-life needs.
GPC defines service-learning as an educational approach that connects academic learning with relevant service that benefits the community and civic engagement as efforts by an educational institution that develop the knowledge, skills, values and actions needed to positively impact the community. The center is described as a “repository of knowledge and resources” for students, faculty, staff and members of the community.
Specifically, the center, which is located on the second floor of the college’s CN Building will:
• Coordinate opportunities to volunteer and serve the community
• Provide computer access
• Assist with partnership selection and placement
• Provide training, workshops and conferences
• Be the home of a faculty academy
• Feature print and digital information about social issues, civic engagement and service-learning
• Provide technical assistance in course development
“This is, of course, a very great day for Georgia Perimeter College,” said Davis. “This day is important not only to Georgia Perimeter but certainly the students and for the residents throughout the Atlanta area.”
Davis said the creation of the center was part ofa “quest to engage our students to create higher awareness of individual responsibility.”
Tricoli, who said the center was a dream of his for the past three years, said one of the benefits of service-learning is “to build in young people a lifelong passion to help others.
“Right here in DeKalb County, Georgia we have something very special to celebrate,” Tricoli said.
The 39th president of the United States, Carter, who was accompanied by his wife former first lady Roslyn Carter, is recognized worldwide for his philanthropic work such as building homes in America and abroad through Habitat for Humanity and health projects through the Carter Center carried out in 70 nations, many in Africa.
As the keynote speaker at the program held at the Cole Auditorium, Carter told four stories about a student, a politician, a man before St. Peter and a conversation with St. Paul and related each to a different aspect of learning, knowledge, serving others and being bogged down by our individual faith as well as the value of things unseen such as peace, justice, forgiveness, service, compassion and sacrificial love.
Three GPC students asked questions of Carter. In response to one student’s query about advice to students in their volunteer pursuits, Carter commented: “Always be on the lookout for existing organizations or create your own, utilizing your personal interests to help others.”
And he said this related to another student’s question about the health care debate in America: “As we deal with cost of medical care here, we ought to remember that many people on Earth have no medical care–half the Earth lives on less than $2 a day.”