We are grateful to Notre Dame Clubs for sponsoring eight-week service experiences for students from the University of Notre Dame, the College of St. Mary's, and Holy Cross College. Whether you have been hosting students for many years, or if this is your first summer with the program, we appreciate your participation in this educational process.
As Notre Dame Club contacts, you play a vital role in helping students feel welcome, prepared, and supported throughout the summer. Here you will find helpful guidelines, promising practices, and practical suggestions to make the Summer Service Learning Program a rewarding experience for students, site partners, and for your Notre Dame Club.
Your Responsibilities as a Sponsoring Notre Dame Club
With more than 220 students serving in nearly 120 cities throughout the country each summer, the SSLP could not function without the significant support provided by Notre Dame Clubs. We appreciate attention to the following:
- Commit to sponsor a student in the eight consecutive week SSLP by submitting the Club Commitment Form by November 15.
- Choose a site in the local community where the student can be engaged in working with people who are economically poor or marginalized. See "Choosing a Site" for more information about what Clubs should consider when selecting an organization where SSLP students will work.
- Establish a positive working relationship with the agency or organization before, during, and after the eight-week SSLP. Be involved with the site in service activities throughout the year.
- Provide room and board for the student by inviting the student to live with alumni/ae families, or choosing a site that has on-site housing available. This includes seeing that meals are provided for students.
- Maintain good communication with the student in preparation for the summer. If you are available, go with the student to the site on the first day—or visit the student at the SSLP site at another time during the eight weeks.
- Mentor the student throughout the summer, talking with them at least every two weeks. Offer hospitality and engage in discussions of social issues. Invite the student to speak to club members about the experience.
- Near the conclusion of the student's SSLP, invite the student out for a meal or for coffee to reflect on his or her experience as a whole. You might also invite the student to reflect publicly--at a Club event or in a Club newsletter--on what the experience has meant for them.
- Send the tuition scholarship for the student to the Center for Social Concerns in June.
- Complete the yearly evaluation form.
To help you in your role as a mentor to your SSLP student(s), it is important to be aware of what the SSLP requires of students:
- Commit to a full time, eight consecutive week position with an agency or organization.
- Talk to the student intern from the previous year, if possible, to learn about the site.
- Be respectful of authority and the clientele at the site through reflective listening and seeking feedback.
- Be a self starter—look for ways to assist.
- Be committed to working with and learning from the clients and staff.
- Be ready and willing to meet with alumnae/i when invited.
- Maintain an attitude of service at the site and in your living arrangements.
- Be open to new experiences, even those out of your comfort zone.
- Enter into discussions about social issues with alumni/ae, and friends.
- Complete all course assignment readings, journal assignments, the final paper, and follow-up requirements.
- Ask someone at the site to take a photo of you in action.
- Send your paper to your site supervisor and alumnae/i contact person and the Center for Social Concerns.
- Look for ways to continue learning from the experience through courses, research, etc.
- Help recruit students for next year.
- Share site information with the next student going to the site.
Site Supervisors Responsibilities
Site Supervisors are integral in the service-learning pedagogy and are a key partner with Notre Dame Club contacts in making the SSLP a meaningful experience. ND Club contacts might benefit from knowing what we ask of site supervisors. :
- Agree to host a student offering direct service to the population being served, a full-time position (35–40 hours per week) for eight consecutive weeks. Eighty percent of time should be interacting with people.
- Fill out and send the Site Description Form to the Center for Social Concerns by November 15 for students to read when selecting sites.
- When the student arrives, offer orientation about your programs and staff.
- Have someone, if not yourself, meet weekly with the student about what he or she is witnessing and learning.
- Establish a schedule of supervision for the student on-site.
- Give the student as much responsibility as possible. Review student tasks and responsibilities each week during supervision; revise as needed.
- If problems arise, communicate the concerns to the Notre Dame Club contact person and the Center for Social Concerns.
- Give departing students an opportunity to say goodbye and for others at the site to say goodbye to them. Options could include taking the student out to lunch during the last week, doing an informal exit interview with the student, having a small farewell party at the site, or making a goodbye card that everyone signs.
- Complete the SSLP Site Supervisor Evaluation form and return it to the Center for Social Concerns. We are interested in areas that worked well for the agency but also areas that need improvement.
- We ask that if the student needs to transport clients and children who are served by your organization, they do so only in your agency vehicles, not in their own vehicles.
Please Note: This is a theology course in which students reflect on their service experience; students are not asked to proselytize.
For the eight weeks, working full-time at the site is the students' top priority (including evening and weekend time when needed); whatever the alumni club invites them to is second priority; next is keeping up with the course work. All other areas of life come after these priorities.
Further Suggestions for Supporting and Mentoring your SSLP Student
When a student commits to the SSLP, anytime from late January to mid-April, he or she is asked to contact the Notre Dame Club and the site within two weeks of signing the contract. The student will confirm dates of the SSLP and ask for information about housing. The Center for Social Concerns will email the student’s application to the Notre Dame Club SSLP contact person and the site supervisor.
If you do not hear from the student within two weeks of receiving the application, please email or call students to welcome them.
During the summer, we ask that the SSLP contact person or another designated person from the Club meets with students at least every two weeks to talk about how they are doing, what they do at the site and what they are reading for the course. The hope is for a conversation with both parties talking about involvement in service, social concerns and faith. Most students are very interested to hear how others have integrated these areas into a variety of professions.
Clubs are encouraged to invite SSLP students to all appropriate Club events, such as a board meeting, send-off picnic, golf outing, young alumni events, etc.
If the student lives in the same city as the Club, invite his or her parents to attend a Club event, as the Chicago Club does with a Mass and picnic at one of the SSLP sites.
Participate in evaluations with the student, site, host families and club members.
Establish regular communication with the student and foster open, honest dialogue.
- The most important thing is to listen, not solve. Give students a place to
process and an openness to live with the questions.
- Assure students that challenges are common and expected.
Provide context about the city and/or region, such as the history and current social issues.
Provide opportunities for students to reflect and attend religious services.
- Find out student's religion or denomination; offer to help connect them to a place of worship or to bring student with you to services on the weekend.
Suggested Guide for Reflection: Some Questions to Ask Students
When have you been uncomfortable this summer, maybe physically or emotionally? What have been sources of new or unexpected joy? (DISPLACEMENT and DISCOVERY)
- How might your discomfort help give you a better appreciation for the hardships of those at your site? (SOLIDARITY)
- How might these new sources of joy help point out what is most important in life? (SIMPLICITY)
What are the most meaningful relationships that you are building? (EMPATHY)
- Reflect on the most challenging relationships or the most nourishing.
Do you wonder where God is in all this? Or, where are you finding/looking for meaning? Some of our sites are explicitly Catholic or Christian organizations, others are not religiously affiliated—if the atmosphere of the site doesn't allow for religious language or if you would not choose to speak this way, then you can ask students to reflect on where they're finding meaning. (MEANING and FINDING GOD)
- Does the experience of suffering lead to new questions, anger, confusion, or unsettledness?
- Can you find God in the midst of relationships—God as dynamic and present throughout life?
- Students are encouraged to commit to a spiritual practice during the summer, such as a daily walk, giving up Facebook, or 10 minutes of prayer/meditation.
- How is this going for them?
What are you learning about yourself? (SELF-DISCOVERY and CALL TO ACTION)
- What gifts are you discovering that you have?
- What limitations are you discovering and what do you hope to grow in?
- How do you see yourself connected to the challenges that the people you are working with face?
- Do you have any new resolves for the next week/the rest of the summer?
- What bearing does all this have on your major or post-graduation plans?
Catholic Social Tradition
As a theology course, the SSLP is anchored in the Catholic Social Tradition (CST). Many of the readings assigned to students throughout the eight week coursepacket draw from various aspects of the Catholic Social Tradition. For a brief primer on CST, see the following link:
Creative Ideas Used by Notre Dame Clubs to Connect with their SSLP Students
- The Cleveland Club and the Aurora/Fox Valley Club contacts arrange weekly lunches with the SSLP students to discuss their work, questions and issues that arise for them.
- The Orange County Club invites the students to work at their annual golf outing, the major source of funding for the SSLP scholarships and a great way for students to meet Club members.
- The Chicago Club arranges a calendar of events, with Club activities and dinners with a variety of Club members.
- Many Club members in the Greater Sarasota Club invite the two students over for dinner, even when they live with another host family.