Service Learning Day

Jason Xing and Marvin Ma

“Non Sibi,” the Latin phrase “not for self,” salutes LFA’s student pillars in exercising student responsibility on April’s Service Learning Day. An indispensable component of holistic education, service enriches student learning via volunteering, organization, and engagement beyond the classroom domain. To LFA, service learning fosters civic engagement – strengthened by academic scholarship and social intuition. Student contributions, alongside nonprofit and city-ran organizations, reflect social and environmental barriers often overlooked from the affluent yet superficial veneer of Lake County.

Service Learning Day sets out to instill exemplary citizenship in LFA students. As defined by the four pillars of Lake Forest Academy, citizenship underlines student involvement in the LFA community, outside service, and commitment to global awareness. Service motivates students to lend a helping hand to communities or individuals in need. “[Through service learning] I learned a lot about teamwork [and] how to be a part of a team [and] communicate better with your team,” said Jeevan Bhatia ’24. Teamwork forges cogent bonds between students and neighboring communities, driving one to fashion one’s privileges in overcoming mutual hardships. It encourages students to engage in active, conversational learning instead of solely transacting knowledge under a classroom setting. Afterall, “if service is always within the classroom, then in some ways it always remains kind of theoretical,” says Diego Duran-Medina, Executive Director of the Stuart Center at LFA. To students, actions evoke greater understanding. Simply giving “us a 40-minute lecture about buckthorn […] would not have as much of an effect as actually going there and being able to see it,” said Colin Gupta ’24. It is important to “clip the buckthorn and realize how much there is with your own eyes rather than just hearing someone else’s words,” Gupta states.

Amnesty International takes a trip to Refugee One to drop off supplies on Service Day. (Photo by Sam Wold)

This realization grew as service opportunities conveyed fruitful experiences in benefit of LFA’s international community. Under the ambience of skyscrapers and malls, students from major cities abroad lacked strong connections with nature as suburbs withdrew to metropolitan ardor.“[Back home], we can throw trash or paper [subconsciously] on the road and the cleaners will pick it up,” said Daijun Yao ’24, an international student from Qingdao, China who participated in buckthorn removal. Nevertheless, service allowed international students to harness their concienciality and develop a newfound appreciation for service laborers. “The workers must cut and remove them [buckthorns] for you,” Yao explains. “Even though buckthorns are not planted by hand, it’s important that I understand the hard work demonstrated by the [Lake County Forest Preserve] workers.” Amidst ambivalence, aid becomes an expression of empathy, and Service Learning Day acts as a window for students to converse a token of gratitude by uplifting workers and families in need. Service isn’t merely a social construct, but a recurring responsibility deserving greater emphasis. “Hunger will not disappear or be relieved if you just walk over [and] do the charity one day.” said Qixuan Zhang ’24, an LFA volunteer at Feed My Starving Children. To students, their contributions acted as a catalyst for collective cognizance. In the end, service emboldens students to nurture their surroundings and acknowledge obstacles beyond mere peripheral consciousnesses.