Saul Tobias Community Engagement Awards 2019


When I first started teaching at Cal
State Fullerton I started doing service learning in a class that was on
interdisciplinary social science and then I did service-learning when I
started teaching University 100 which is a freshman experience class and soon
thereafter CICE invited me to go to Cambodia. That was in 2006 we were
invited to introduce service-learning to the first english-speaking university
there after that we were called back to do an International Institute for
service-learning in Cambodia. Service-learning is about students being
reflective about what they’re learning and how they’re learning it his
experience his first trip in Cambodia helped me developing my own
service-learning project later Saul encouraged me to look into actually
making my ideas real and kind of putting them into words. It’s the difference
between volunteering and service learning right so you can go to a
country like Cambodia and you can volunteer for a couple of weeks and and
you can come away with I’m so grateful for everything I have and but in our
program we’re looking at much more context lots of much more history and
we’re looking at U.S. Cambodian relationships and the history of those
relationships Cambodia is a great place to be doing this because Cambodia is I
call it kind of ground zero for nonprofits. A service-learning takes a
lot of extra effort from the faculty member he took years to develop
partnerships with nonprofits in Cambodia so that the work that he took his
students there to do was meaningful impactful safe and in line with all the
learning outcomes that he had for his students. We have a great partner in
Cambodia Paññāsāstra University who we first began
working with at the Institute in 2009 when we did the program in the summer
our students went to a number of elementary schools where they did some
teaching and working with the students. I’m just so appreciative that
he was the one that took us because his love for the Cambodian people was
something that I greatly appreciated being at Cal State Fullerton reading the
books going to class but in Cambodia we would read it we would watch movies and
then we would actually go to the places actually see the articles the literature
that he was having history come to life. He was always willing to hear our ideas
our perspectives and the things we noticed when I came back the first thing
I started thinking about is how can I make because you know over there and
people in Cambodia they try to you know make their society a better place so it
definitely gave me that philosophy that I am responsible for what I do. This trip
meant more to me and my family and for me it was more of searching for some
type of reconciliation within my family there was the river in Battambang where
that’s where I met my great grandmother there’s a river that flows through there
and my mom used to play in that river. The number one quality that stood out to
me about him was just how approachable he was. He cares about students and
learning and supporting them really through their University experience. He
was just so kind and compassionate. A good faculty member is there to help
those students through those struggles so it’s not an overwhelming struggle but
it’s just a learning process. Whenever I needed to talk to him he was always
available. I know Sol’s developing student
relationships in a way that you know we’re not just faculty here we’re also
mentors to students. These sorts of awards the service learning award is
very special to me because it’s always highlighting someone who goes far above
and beyond for the sake of their students and it’s really a work of
passion and a belief in the transformation that
they see in the students.

Michael Martin

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