Tag Archives: service learning

Service-Minded PUC Students Give Back to the Community

PUC is blessed with a campus full of service minded students who actively participate in the college’s service-learning program. The goal of the program is to deepen students’ understanding of the academic material they learn in the classroom by applying their learning to real life. Students develop collaborative relationships with community groups such as the Veterans Home of California – Yountville, the Napa County Land Trust, the Lake County Continuum of Care, the Berryessa Bureau of Reclamation, and the Boys and Girls Club in St. Helena. Students’ critical thinking skills are enhanced through the practical application of skills and theories learned in the classroom. Though their values and beliefs may be challenged by engagement in their community, PUC’s faculty and staff remain committed to supporting students’ spiritual development and encourage students to process their learning experiences through creative assignments such as group presentations, journaling questions, and classroom discussions.

Here are just a few of the community outreach projects PUC students have participated in during recent months.

Berryessa Bureau of Reclamation
Students work at Lake Berryessa to plant native blue oak trees around the visitor’s center.

Citizenship Legal Services
Psychology and social work students are trained by coordinators and attorneys from the Citizenship Legal Service partnership to help residents with green cards apply for citizenship. Approximately 50 students have been trained in an effort to help staff the monthly workshops held throughout the Napa Valley.

MLK Monday
Each year, Napa’s MLK Monday Coalition puts together activities, volunteer options, and discussion groups in a day of “action and compassion” throughout the Napa Valley. Students from a variety of courses dialogue about MLK’s letter from Birmingham jail, view documentaries relevant to coursework and participate in discussions, and help clean up the Martha Walker Native Habitat Garden.

Napa Co. Land Trust: Pope Valley
Students from Conservation Biology courses put their knowledge to use clearing invasive species from around valley oak saplings, enabling them to thrive in beautiful Pope Valley.

Point in Time Count (Lake County) 2017 & 2018
Students from Statistical Methods learn about the faces behind the numbers when they administer the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) survey to people experiencing homelessness. Human Behavior and the Social Environment students learn about causes and effects of homelessness while they practice administering an assessment to clients.

Getting Involved with Service and Missions at PUC

By Ben Speegle
Office of Service, Justice, and Missions

What is the most important investment you can make during your time in college? Some will speak in hushed, revered tones of a quesadilla maker that not only properly cooks a quesadilla for you on both the top and the bottom simultaneously, but at the very same time also slices the grilled masterpiece, saving your hands from certain peril. Others will insist your best investment during college is a subscription to Netflix or Hulu Plus, or a similar platform for viewing television shows and movies, as this almost certainly gives you an excuse to not study.

However, I would like to propose the most important investment you can make during your time as a student of higher learning is an investment in experience. Pacific Union College is one of the highest rated colleges in its class; it has been described as the most beautiful college campus in the United States; its students report a substantial ROI. I find that PUC’s true beauty, though, lies in the opportunities it offers to its students. Among the legion of opportunities available, the opportunity to experience life and to experience God through service of others may be the most valuable.

Without a question, the best experience I had during my college years was the time I spent in Thailand teaching English as a student missionary. PUC was able to organize a ten-month trip to Bangkok, where I taught at the Seventh-day Adventist Language School. I had the opportunity to become fully immersed in a culture, to teach English, and to serve. During my stay, I learned the value of being able to accept that by myself, I am unable to do many things; however, the God I serve is able to do all things and is faithful to use me to the benefit of others.

Ben 1

Ben Speegle while in Thailand. Elephant names unknown.

From tutoring adults and teaching kindergarten classes to doing dental work at a prison and providing aid to refugee camps, I saw God working in incredible ways, despite my own shortcomings. All that was required of me was to embrace God’s leading and to echo Isaiah’s response of, “Here am I. Send me.”

Since returning from my mission trip, I graduated from PUC on a hot summer morning in June and was hired to work full-time in the Office of Service, Justice, and Missions with some of the most inspiring individuals with whom I have ever crossed paths. My mission trip had a profound effect on my character as well as my career path. Now my job is to invite other students to make the easiest decision of their college careers.

When you get to PUC, you have an incredible opportunity to become part of the changing culture developing here; a culture of service, where people see that the solution to problems isn’t complaining or sitting idly by, but rather taking an active stand. As such, I want to invite each of you to really make a difference, on three levels, while attending Pacific Union College.

PUC students participate in Rebuilding Calistoga, a ministry where students help senior citizens with home repairs and other needs.

PUC students participate in Rebuilding Calistoga, a ministry where students help senior citizens with home repairs and other needs.

1. Make a difference in the local community. Join us on Saturdays as we go to Clearlake and Berkeley or Calistoga to work in homeless and low-income communities near our campus. Are you wondering why I didn’t include a specific date you should join us? That’s because we go to these communities every Saturday. During Christmas time? Yes. Over spring break? Of course. During the summer? You betcha! Literally every weekend of the year, you have an opportunity to make an actual difference in the lives of those who desperately need to feel loved.

This past spring, PUC students went to Manaus, Brazil to to build a health clinic, provide water filters and water education, and teach English classes.

This past spring, PUC students went to Manaus, Brazil to to build a health clinic, provide water filters and water education, and teach English classes.

2. Make a difference through a short-term mission trip. Every school year, we send groups to different parts of the world, including a Navajo reservation in Arizona, the Amazon River in Brazil, a clinic in Nicaragua, and a school in Fiji. These trips usually last 10 days and are an incredible place to find the love of service that is naturally in every person.

3. Make a difference through a long-term mission trip. Fully Experience a new culture while serving internationally or become a task force worker within the United States. Round out your education with the real-life experience of being a blessing in a community and improving the quality of life in a location God has called you to serve.

That is my challenge to all PUC students, new and returning. You have opportunities here that may never come your way again. On graduation day, when you look back at your time at PUC, I hope you can say you received the fullest experience possible from our college on the hill, and you received far more than simply an education during your time in Angwin.

(Editor’s Note: PUC students are going on two short-term mission trips this summer! You can follow the students on their journey on the PUC Missions Facebook page.)