Be open to new opportunities, experiences, and ways of learning!
When working on a project with your immersive learning mentor, team, and partners, it is important to learn about the people with whom you are working. This may include where they are from, interests, cultural knowledge, languages, traditions, family practices, and individual and local history.
Getting to know your mentor, your team, and your community partner and establishing open communication will serve you well as you work together on your project throughout the semester.
We work collaboratively with our immersive learning project partners. Your partners know their situation better than anyone else and are the experts in their community setting, and this understanding is essential when addressing the challenge, problem, or situation you intend to explore in your immersive learning partnership.
Remember that you and your community partners are learning together and from each other. Please show the same respect to your mentor, team, and partners that you expect to receive from them as well.
Our unexplored biases and privileges can become a barrier to inclusion in our immersive learning work unless we give some time and reflection to thinking about what these things might be and realizing that not everyone comes from the same place or has the same perspective as we may have.
This is an example of some thoughts that one of our community partners shared with us about their immersive learning partnerships:
EcoRehab is a local full-service organization that transforms abandoned houses in Muncie's urban core into inviting, attractive, and energy-efficient homes. Craig Graybeal, former Executive Director for EcoRehab says that it is not until students get off campus that they realize the true nature of the challenges some of our Muncie neighbors are facing. "Immersive Learning allows students to come face-to-face with issues like inequity, poverty, and racism, and they begin to see how their discipline can play a role in changing those issues."
Getting to know everything you can about your community partner and the people they serve can make your team's product or deliverable more impactful. In many cases, it is about being intentional in our interactions with the people we come in contact with and using good listening skills to gather and retain critical information.
Before meeting with your community partner or business client's representatives, go online and read their website and any other stories about their mission and activities. Spend some time brainstorming questions that will get to the heart of your partner's true needs. Here are some questions that will help you get started:
- What are the partner's mission and goals?
- How do they interact with their stakeholders and clients?
- What are some resources your partner might contribute to make your project go more smoothly?
- How has the partner worked with student teams before?
- What can the partner teach you about the challenge or problem you will be tackling?
These questions will help you prepare for your first interactions with your client. Your project and your experience will be enhanced when you take these steps.
Contact the Immersive Learning office so we can help at firstname.lastname@example.org or use this form.