By: Marty Magaan
NYMAPS is a coalition of colleges, universities, and community-based organizations dedicated to realizing the civic mission of higher education and to advancing service-learning and other forms of community-campus partnerships across the New York Metro Area. We promote experiential learning, civic engagement, active citizenship, and social responsibility among college students and address community identified needs through the formation of sustainable, mutually beneficial community campus partnerships. (NYMAPS Mission Statement from website: http://nymaps.org)
I wasn't quite sure what I was getting myself into when I agreed to be a co-presenter at NYMAPS Symposium. I didn't even know what a symposium was at the time other than that I was supposed to have read something by that title for my philosophy class last semester.
"I'll be doing most of the talking," said Amy Bravo on the other end of the phone trying to convince me. Amy was set to make a presentation on the ethical and logistical implications of having a required service-learning component as part of a course curriculum. She wanted me to present a video that I had made for my final project for her Foundations of Inquiry class two semesters ago in which I talked about my particular service-learning experience for her class. After a little bit of convincing, I finally agreed to do the presentation, seeing as I had no legitimate reason to decline.
It turns out that a symposium is a sort of formal gathering in which ideas on a certain topic are shared and discussed. The general topic for discussion at the NYMAPS Symposium was service-learning, and the gathering included college professors, people from non-profit organizations, and even a few students. The event consisted of a speech given by a rather impressive keynote speaker, followed by two sessions during which several panel presentations were going on in different rooms. Our presentation highlighted the changes that Amy's Foundations of Inquiry course underwent over three semesters, and how those changes addressed certain ethical and logistical problems that she had encountered in regards to the service-learning aspect of the course. It was quite interesting to see things from a professor's perspective, and it was nice to know that improvements were constantly being made to the course each semester.
Overall, my experience at the NYMAPS Symposium was enlightening in that it exposed me to a world that I had not quite seen before. It helped me to realize what it really means to be an educated person, and that there are so many levels of education to be attained above my current position. I now understand that even after a decade and a half schooling, I am still only in the process of laying down the foundation for what I will build myself into in the decades to come, and college offers all the resources and opportunities I need to do just that.
For more information on NYMAPS, visit their website at http://nymaps.org