In Wendy Williams’ Honors Colloquia course on Empathy, students are learning more than just the definition of the word.
“The class partners with Como for a service learning project so we can try to experience empathy in the field rather than just learn about it in the classroom,” said Justin Pollard, a sophomore writing major.
Pollard, along with junior Julia DeVincenzo and seniors Lauren Bridges and Monica Orjuela, experienced empathy by hosting a book drive for Como Community Center. They collected about 1,000 children’s books in donations.
Bridges, a speech pathology major, said the group decided to collect books instead of raise money after visiting the Como Community, which is in a low-income part of Fort Worth. She said the group noticed that the community center had a small selection of books available for children in after-school programs.
“We thought it would be a good thing to donate because they’re all struggling with their reading, so it would be good for them to have this opportunity and those resources,” Bridges said.
Bridges contacted different departments within TCU, such as the English Department and the College of Science and Engineering, and asked for help in collecting books. She collected 704 books just on TCU’s campus, and attributed most of those donations to TCU faculty.
Pollard collected books from his hometown in Arkansas and reached out to students who went home over Thanksgiving break. Pollard said he collected about 250 to 300 books off-campus.
Other groups in the class worked with Como Community Center on different projects, such as a college prep day at TCU and special events at the community center. Students were also required to volunteer at least 12 hours at Como over the course of the semester.
Nursing major Orjuela was in charge of funding the different class projects by applying for grants. She said, “Como is right in our backyard and we do have a responsibility to look out for our neighbors.”
Pollard said the experience he got by working with Como is something he couldn’t get in a normal class. He said he thought it was a well-designed course.
“Working at Como really did help the actual learning in the class,” Pollard said. “I had never done service learning for a project before, at least for school. I think it was a really good idea to implement that, especially for this class because empathy is basically a feeling and it’s hard to teach it.”