John Nieto-Phillips believes in the power of service. He has seen its ability to spark social justice, both through his own volunteer work and as a faculty member connecting students with community needs through service-learning.
“We are more connected than what we often think,” says Nieto-Phillips, Indiana University Bloomington’s vice provost of diversity and inclusion. “There is a real imperative for us to be involved in our shared futures.”
For more than 20 years, Nieto-Phillips has been researching the ways in which race, language, and ethnicity influence the perception of Latina/o identity within the United States. Upon arriving in Bloomington from New Mexico as an Associate Professor of History and Latino Studies in 2003, Nieto-Phillips initially struggled to reignite his passion and to serve the community he now called home. Adding service-learning to his Latina/o history courses’ curriculums allowed Nieto-Phillips and his students to truly engage with Bloomington.
Nieto-Phillips started incorporating service-learning into his classes by connecting his students with Latina immigrant women and their children who were taking family literacy night classes. While helping the children with skill-building activities, like telling stories and writing notes, students also helped the mothers to improve their English. “If you believe that you can help make the world better, both today and tomorrow, then you can find those opportunities. I found it here through service-learning.” Nieto-Phillips has taken service-learning to Spain, too, where his IU students worked with immigrant families to record their stories and make them into children’s books.
Often, social justice is the foundation of a service experience; when you engage with a community in need, you can lead to a better future, Nieto-Phillips says. “The opportunities end only at your imagination.”
Service-learning experiences are available throughout IU, within all major and IU Corps Volunteer Central can connect you to service beyond the classroom. “I always think there is opportunity in what everyone does. We can take those skills into the community – from non-profit activities, and volunteering, and even in their professional occupations. Students can find ways to share their skills with the people that need them.”
Service-learning opportunities are considered IU Corps Opportunities. Learn more here.