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Issue Date: September 2010 Issue

Serving up Learning

Melanie Ciarrone
On this particular day, Elizabeth Bruml is having a conversation with a schizophrenic homeless veteran who has an anxiety disorder. She is also thinking of how he is close to her dad's age. "When you're talking to these people, you can't help but relate to them," she says. As Bruml learned through this Hawken School class, anyone can become homeless. It's one of the many lessons gained at the newly opened Sally and Bob Gries Center for Experiential and Service Learning, where students attend class and volunteer at an urban extension campus at University Circle. Between Thanksgiving and winter break, students take time out for a three-week intensive class, which they can opt to take at the Gries Center. For a course such as Bruml's, students write persuasive letters to government officials, work on group projects, read critical literature and spend time talking to the homeless. "For our kids to be prepared for a challenging, ambiguous and ever-changing world, they have to have some experience directly in it," says Scott Looney, school head. "Our kids won't have what I call a done-in-a-day community service experience where they come in and do something nice and never see those people again."

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