Through collaboration with Caroline Bilsky, Assistant Director of the Offices of Admissions and International Student Services at Indiana University South Bend and students with whom she works closely, students in my course on gender and development were able to contribute to a new blog telling diverse stories from the campus.
This project gave the students in my course the opportunity to connect with and interview peers who are permanent residents of the US, and have had a range of experiences in other countries and contexts before enrolling at the university. The blog collaboration was particularly exciting to me, because it allowed me to bring community engagement and global perspective into my course and created a win-win for students and the school.
Through the project, students in my course were able to achieve important course objectives and larger educational goals by building networks, learning about people with different points of view, practicing their ethnographic and interview skills, and contributing directly to an applied research project with a clear outcome beyond the course. I prepared the students with some of the concepts and methodological training, while Ms. Bilsky matched interviewers and interviewees, encouraging students in both roles.
In class, students discussed their interviews with empathy, respect, and, at times, animated excitement. One student taking the course for Honors credit conducted some of the preliminary interviews and helped with the first blog posts. The project contributed to her professional goals by giving her experience in project management, digital publishing, and social science research.
The broader outcome was a blog inspired by the popular series Humans of New York, featuring the diverse perspectives that enliven and enrich the campus community. The blog was unveiled at the annual Thanksgiving lunch at IUSB in November 2019, and new entries are added regularly.