Students seeking a new learning environment will be pleased to know that Community Classroom will be returning in the fall. Community Classroom is a cross-cultural program located in City Heights where PLNU faculty teach classes at MidCity Church of the Nazarene. Students have the opportunity be involved anywhere from taking one class to being part of the full-immersion program.
“Community Classroom offers a real opportunity to dig in and expand horizons as global Christians, to see issues studied on campus play out in the community,” said Director of Community Ministries Dana Hojsack.
Every class incorporates three aspects to encourage community involvement: students read a “common book” that they all reflect on in class; community dinners are held once a month with ethnic food and local speakers; and each class incorporates some type of community service.
“I think the volunteer aspect is awesome,” said past Community Classroom student Jillian Heckman via email. “It really helps you to see the needs of the community and think beyond yourself. It makes you rethink your worldview, teaches you a lot about life, and helps you build amazing relationships.”
Heckman took a Race and Ethnicity class at Community Classroom and appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the environment that hosts her tutoring ministry, Alima. She also enjoyed the alternate classroom setting.
“We sat in a big circle on comfy couches and discussed different topics on culture, race, ethnicity, injustice, etc. It was a really personal and relaxed environment,” said Heckman.
Heckman acknowledged that the commute was a drawback since her class time caused her to waste time and gas sitting in traffic. However, many students find the benefits far outweigh the inconveniences of the location.
“Things can always feel like inconveniences, but in retrospect, anything that felt like an inconvenience was only me thinking of myself,” said senior Molly Bassett via email. “There are inconveniences every day, but that doesn’t make it a bad thing per se. It’s just part of life,.”
Bassett participated in Community Classroom the only semester that the full immersion program was implemented. While she never wanted the program to be a “science experiment of multicultural engagement,” she recommends the program to anyone looking to experience life somewhere else with other people.
“You’re getting a world of experience and another aspect of life that you will always have with you,” said Bassett.
For those unable to do a full-immersion program, Community Classroom still provides convenient options, especially for commuters, nursing students, and anyone who is unable to go abroad due to locked-in schedules on the main campus. All of the courses offered are taken only one day a week, except for Spanish 101, which takes place on two days.
Hojsack compared Community Classroom with the Liberty Station campus courses and addressed their effect on Community Classroom involvement.
“The school has been offering more opportunities, which disperses students across the programs,” said Hojsack. “This isn’t a bad thing, but it does lower numbers. We don’t offer priority registration, giftcards, or a shuttle service. What we do offer is a place where students can have local community involvement, teaching, and learning, and not just another location to host traditional classes.”
The program will start its fourth year of providing students with the chance to “put feet to faith” in the fall. Five general education courses will be offered with space for up to 157 students. Interested students can contact Hojsack for more information.