The Summer Service Learning Program (SSLP) is an eight-week service experience within a three credit Theology course. Students serve at approximately 180 sites throughout the United States, sponsored by Notre Dame Clubs. The SSLP provides Notre Dame students, as well as alumni and alumnae, with an opportunity to build relationships with people on the margins of society. The program is deeply enhanced by conversations between students and alums about social issues, challenges at the site and how to integrate social concerns into life beyond Notre Dame.
As a three-credit theology course, the SSLP requires students to participate in orientation sessions, complete the reading and writing assignments during the summer, and participate in follow-up discussions during the fall semester, in addition to their work on site.
Students receive a tuition scholarship of $2,200 and a $500 stipend for commuting costs in the city of the SSLP. Housing and food is arranged by the Notre Dame Clubs and that’s where you come in! As a host family you provide the student(s) with a place to sleep and eat, but in addition, you are the student’s home and therefore a major source of support for their experience.
With this support and connection in mind, here are some ideas and guidelines to ensure that both your and the student’s needs and expectations are met in this relationship.
Communication: Make household rules and expectations clear right from the start. We encourage that the student abides to a curfew and helps out with household chores. Establish these expectations from the start and ask for the student’s response. In this way, the student will truly be a member of the household and know what that means in your home.
Students as part of the family, not guests: We tell students that they are contributing members of the household and ought to help with meal prep, clean-up, chores, mowing the lawn, etc. Please do not treat them as guests, but as a member of the family who has responsibilities in the home.
Meals: Host families are the main source of meals for the student, in many cases breakfast, lunch and dinner. If the student needs to bring a lunch to their site be sure to have food available for them to pack a lunch. Discussing schedules and eating dinner together each evening during the summer is a great way to find time to talk about your local community and the student’s work. If family dinners are not always possible, please let the student know what food is available for them to prepare their own dinner. In some Clubs, other Club members who are not housing the student invite the student over for dinner.
Course expectations: The student will have reading and writing to do during the summer so he or she may need to spend some time alone to do this work. We ask them to participate in family activities as much as possible.
Share in the Experience: Many of the SSLP students are engaged in meaningful but often intense work throughout their stay. Ask questions, give advice, and be supportive. You are a significant resource to your student as he or she grows in understanding of the experience.
You do not need to entertain the students: It is great for students to see the sites in your city and learn about your local culture, but we also encourage living simply and thinking about what it means to live in solidarity with those with whom the student is developing relationships with at the site.
Mentor: We hope you will discuss with students the ways in which you have integrated faith and social concerns into your life beyond Notre Dame.
Host families have had a lasting impact on the students and many students stay in touch for years to come. Students also enjoy visits from the host families when they come to campus on football weekends or at other times of the year. We deeply appreciate your hospitality this summer!