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“Service learning is a crucial component of university education,” says sophomore student

Fifteen Parami undergraduate students completed the summer six-week-long learning service in collaboration with Parami University's partner organizations in various local communities, where they learned to improve their compassion, leadership, and communication skills. Service learning helps students engage with stakeholders of local communities and provide meaningful service. The service learning sectors include education, business, community service, and agriculture.

Phyu Phyu Han, a sophomore student, undertook her service learning at an organization focusing on raising awareness of mental health issues and is excited to share her service learning journey. In this interview, she talked about crucial concepts of mental health & psychosocial support and how she applies the knowledge in mentoring the first-year students at Parami University.

Question: Tell us about your service learning.

Phyu Phyu Han: I participated in a service learning program as a community and learning management team member at Call Me Today, the first Mental Health Helpline in Myanmar and a non-profit organization providing mental health services to the community. Generally, I had to make the presentation slides for the instructors, the voice acting for the lecture recorded videos, and write the scripts for the lectures. I had to read articles about MHPSS (Mental Health and Psychosocial Support) and some books that related to children's mental well-being and coping mechanisms for mental health well-being. I chose Call Me Today because it is Call Me Today, and I wanted to improve my interpersonal skills and gain more knowledge on mental health and coping mechanisms.

Question: How did the service learning benefit you?

Phyu Phyu Han: The most satisfying benefit I got through my service learning journey was the opportunity to learn the MHPSS (Mental Health and Psychosocial Support). The books and articles I had to read were beneficial to me, and I am glad I could utilize them in my circle. Besides, my mentor at Call Me Today taught me how to make logic models. This is the first time I have heard of it. But, during my service learning days, he taught me everything related to creating the logic model on a project. I could create a program logic model by myself regarding approaching psychosocial support to the children in the war areas. This was one of the most invaluable experiences in my service-learning journey. This helps me create the project more precisely and effectively with high dedication in my future career.

Another thing I have learned is good leadership and mentoring skills from my mentor. He is one of the best mentors I have ever met. I see the best characteristics of a mentor in him.

Inspired by my mentor at Call Me Today, I am now serving as a senior mentor to two first-year students at Parami University. I am helping my mentees to the best of my ability. I make time weekly to help them with their needs in the assignments and readings. With the invaluable gifts from the service learning, I am now trying my best both in my education pathway and in my social life.

Question: Describe the memorable moment you had during the service learning.

Phyu Phyu Han: The service learning program was a journey filled with memorable moments for me. However, one that stood out above all was the profound sense of collaboration and connection it fostered among me and my beloved peers. Our shared experiences in the program were like building blocks, forming a sturdy foundation for a friendship that would prove invaluable in the years to come. It was a program that not only enriched our understanding of the importance of mental well-being but also deepened our connection to each other.

We were inspired by the incredible experiences and insights we had gained. So, we decided to take our shared passion to the next level. That's when the concept of the Creative Club was born, a brainchild nurtured by the seeds of our service-learning adventures.

With our newfound determination, we set out to create a space at Parami University where creativity would thrive. We envisioned a club where students could come together to explore their artistic talents, share innovative ideas, and make a lasting impact on our community. Our mission was clear: to provide a platform for like-minded individuals to express themselves and create positive change through their creative endeavors.

However, our decision to form the Creative Club was not merely about establishing another student-led club. We knew that our service learning experiences had equipped us with unique skills that would prove to be the lifeblood of our club's success. In particular, our deep dives into program logic models and risk management during the service learning program imparted knowledge that would become instrumental in guiding our club activities. With the Creative Club, we aimed to extend the reach of our service learning experiences, channeling our newfound skills and passion into a force for positive change within our Parami University community. It was a journey filled with purpose and a bond that would forever be our most cherished treasure.

Question: How do you think service learning is vital for university students?

Phyu Phyu Han: Service learning is a crucial component of university education, offering students valuable experiences outside of the classroom. Besides, it enables students to apply academic knowledge to real-world situations, enhancing their understanding and relevance of what they learn.

Beyond academics, service learning cultivates our personal growth, empathy, and a sense of civic responsibility. It exposes students to diverse communities and issues, broadening their perspectives and making them more engaged citizens.

It allows students to explore potential career paths by participating in civic engagement activities. Ultimately, service learning equips university students with the knowledge, skills, and values necessary for a successful future and a meaningful contribution to society.

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