From Obscurity to Valuable Contributor: A Case for Critical Service-Learning

Marisa Berman, Julia Carroll, and Jennifer Maloy


ABSTRACT: This essay argues the benefits of a critical service-learning project in which English Language Learners and developmental writing students documented the stories of Holocaust survivors for a campus-based resource center at a two-year college. The authors demonstrate the importance of designing service-learning projects that promote reciprocity and sustained collaboration among participants and stress the need to structure such projects to meet the needs of community college students.


Since the emergence of service-learning over twenty years ago, many scholars and practitioners of this pedagogical approach have successfully conceived of projects that foster equity among participants and promote the exploration of systemic injustice within local communities and larger society. In this essay, we describe a service-learning project we conducted at a two-year college with a developmental writing class and an English as a Second Language (ESL) reading class. As we reflect on our project, we see the ways in which our project does, in very real and sustainable ways, align with critical service-learning models that promote reciprocity between students and community members. With that, however, we want to stress that designing and implementing a service-learning project in which all participants contribute meaningfully across socio-economic, cultural, and/or educational divides requires sustained collaboration between instructors and community partners and a careful consideration of the needs and abilities of all parties.

During the Spring 2013 semester at Queensborough Community College, CUNY (located in Queens, New York), Julia Carroll, teaching an ESL reading course, and Jennifer Maloy, teaching a developmental writing course, brought their classes to participate in a service-learning project at an on-campus cultural site—the Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives (KHRCA). With a goal of engaging students in meaningful reading and writing tasks, Jennifer and Julia worked with the KHRCA to develop a project that involved a group of Holocaust survivors who are active in the KHRCA community. As part of this project, students learned about the Holocaust, examined contemporary hate crimes, and then prepared to interview the Holocaust survivors by completing reading and writing assignments that allowed them to discuss interview techniques and strategies, as well as the effects of trauma. During this phase of our project, students also made multiple visits to the KHRCA and completed a series of reflective writing assignments. These reflections guided them in creating a sixteen-page thank-you booklet called Understanding: Learning About the Holocaust by Interviewing Survivors, which was given as a gift to the participating survivors and is currently being used by the KHRCA to promote its successful educational programs.

Jennifer and Julia worked closely with the KHRCA’s Assistant Director, Marisa Berman, throughout the design and implementation of this project.1 By jointly creating, implementing, and reflecting upon this project, Jennifer, Julia, and Marisa have been able to explore the ways in which it is a model of critical service-learning, which Tania D. Mitchell describes as a re-imagining “the roles of community members, students, and faculty in the service-learning experience” whereby students become active learners working with community partners to generate new knowledge and work to “redistribute power” within existing social structures (“Traditional” 50). This essay presents the perspectives of the instructors, community partner, and students involved, and demonstrates how our project is a potentially innovative model of critical service-learning because of the collaborative design and facilitation of the project and the reciprocal benefits it provides to all participants.

Literature Review: Conceiving of Critical Service-Learning

Over the past twenty years, composition scholars have been exploring the benefits and social import of integrating service-learning into a wide variety of writing courses. Leading scholars in service-learning have argued that service-learning provides students with a space to learn and to practice social responsibility and civic engagement (Adler-Kassner; Herzberg). It also, as Nora Bacon claims, ensures an authentic audience for student writers (598). Student can engage in various forms of writing, including what Thomas Deans describes as writing for the community, writing about the community, and writing with the community.

Despite these obvious benefits, as Amy Traver and Zivah Perel Katz argue, most scholarship on service-learning is produced at four-year schools (2). They continue by noting Amanda Taggart and Gloria Crisp’s work, which suggests that when service-learning projects are implemented in two-year colleges, such projects are rarely analyzed critically in the field’s scholarship.  The dearth of such analysis of service-learning projects at community colleges is important to explore because student populations at two- and four-year colleges may differ in significant ways. Given these potential differences, there is a need for further investigation of the extent to which prevailing models of service-learning prove effective in community college settings.

One strain of service-learning scholarship focuses on the different types of projects that promote reciprocal, sustainable collaborations between community members and participating instructors and students. An early proponent of this view is Ellen Cushman, who argues that composition scholars should work to “establish networks of reciprocity” with community partners and to use their positions as faculty to participate and contribute to communities in meaningful ways (7). Likewise, Linda Flower and Shirley Brice Heath claim that creating sustainable relationships between community and university partners requires service-learning instructors to listen to community members and conduct mutual inquiries and actions (43).

Despite the commitment of practitioners to create service-learning projects that meet these goals, designing and sustaining projects that achieve equal collaboration among participants remains a challenge for service-learning practitioners. Composition scholar Margaret Himley argues that, despite service-learning practitioners’ best intentions, they still face “the power asymmetries, social antagonisms, and historical determinants that are all too often concealed by discourses of volunteerism or civic literacy or active citizenship or experiential learning or rhetorical training” (417). Himley demonstrates that service-learning instructors at universities like her own may recognize that students are in positions of privilege within the context of their service-learning project in which they “give back to people less fortunate,” but the structure and work of such projects often reinforces unequal power dynamics between college students and community participants (421).

In order to acknowledge and challenge such asymmetries, Himley advises students to take time to learn about and research a community before they begin their work and then, throughout the project, explore issues of representation and the perspectives of multiple participants in the projects through class discussion and reflective writing. As students learn about the community in which their service-learning project takes place, and if they are willing to listen to community participants’ experiences and perspectives throughout their project, they are less likely to view community participants as strangers whose lives seem foreign to their own. Himley claims that this type of deep understanding lays the foundation for reciprocity in service-learning, as it encourages students to grapple with their perceptions of privilege as they come to value the knowledge and experience of community members. As students come to value community participants, they may see their role in service-learning less as giving back to and more as working with a community, disrupting the prevailing power structure that Himley identifies in many service-learning projects.

Approaches to service-learning in which students and instructors as well as community members cultivate meaningful and sustainable collaborations align with Mitchell’s characterizations of critical service-learning, which involve “working to redistribute power amongst all participants in the service-learning relationship, developing authentic relationships in the classroom and the community, and working from a social change perspective” (“Traditional” 50). In a literature review of service-learning research, Mitchell divides research and practice into “two camps”: traditional service-learning and critical service-learning (50). Within traditional service-learning, students’ service experience, which is often well-grounded in a course curriculum, improves their academic standing in the form of class performance and GPA. Furthermore, it transforms their lives beyond the classroom as students learn through community service to be more tolerant and altruistic (50). While Mitchell confirms that these are all laudable benefits for students, she also argues that the structure of traditional service-learning projects ultimately may position students within these projects in a manner that reinforces their own privilege (51). Thus, students may benefit immensely from giving back to the community, but larger social distributions of power in which students and community members are enmeshed may remain unchallenged. A reciprocal partnership is only possible if both students and the community partner receive some benefit from the project.

Mitchell’s argument for critical service-learning projects centers on the development of such meaningful and sustainable relationships between participants. She adopts the term “critical service-learning” from Kathleen Rice, Seth Pollack, and Cynthia Rosenberger, arguing that this type of service-learning “provides new insight into the potential of service-learning; particularly, how service experiences—when linked intentionally with classroom components of reading, writing, discussion, and reflection—can transform students’ cognitive understanding of complex concepts” (Mitchell, “Critical” 101). To illustrate this point, Mitchell describes a project in which her students strategically discuss and investigate social issues related to their project before its beginning and then work with community participants to forge authentic relationships. Over the course of a multi-semester project, her students questioned the social dynamics behind the concept of service, and, ultimately, disrupted those dynamics through their ongoing commitment to working with community members. She argues that this exemplifies critical service-learning because students are positioned alongside community members to become “agents of social change” who are able to “respond to injustice” from a social justice perspective (“Critical” 51).  

In terms of our own service-learning project, Mitchell’s definition of critical service-learning has helped us to articulate the design and goals of our service-learning collaboration as it stresses the importance of long-term relationships among service-learning instructors and community organizations as well as the importance of designing projects in which students and community members make meaningful contributions to a project that promotes social change. We believe our service-learning project redistributes power among all participants and fosters authentic community-campus relationships in a way that aligns with Mitchell’s conception of critical service-learning.

Established Benefits of Service-Learning for Developmental Writing and ESL Students

As basic writing scholars have documented, service-learning projects offer students in basic writing courses, particularly at four-year colleges, a variety of educational and affective benefits. Nancy Pine argues that service-learning provides basic writing students with opportunities to engage in academic inquiries and connect them to personal experience (29). In addition, as Rosemary Arca has shown, service-learning empowers basic writing students to see themselves as valuable community members (133). In a similar vein, Catherine Gabor claims that while instructors may be wary of incorporating service-learning projects into the basic writing classroom because they worry that their students’ writing may not be ready to be shared with a wider audience, service-learning promotes “critical or transformative pedagogy” in which students gain “a sense of authority as writer[s]” (51).

The limited scholarship focused on service learning with developmental and ESL writing and reading students at two-year colleges suggests that, despite these potential benefits, students may not be engaging in reciprocal relationships with community partners. Recent scholarship on service-learning with ESL students at two-year colleges demonstrates that ESL students are often mentored by other, often non-ESL, students, a scenario that reinforces an inequitable relationship between these two groups of students (Kincaid and Sotiriou). Further, while recent scholarship has successfully demonstrated the benefits that service-learning offers developmental writing and ESL students and makes the case for integrating service-learning into curricula, it does not necessarily detail how service-learning projects involving these populations ensure reciprocal and sustainable relationships between students and community participants. This suggests to us that those instructors and community partners working with developmental writing and ESL students, particularly at the community college level, should consider carefully how to design critical service-learning projects that ensure all participants are seen as valuable members of a project that disrupts systems of injustice.

Student Demographics: A Case for Critical Service-Learning for Developmental Writing and ESL Students

At QCC, service-learning is identified as a high impact practice and is supported by a well-staffed Office of Academic Service-Learning. Within the department of Academic Literacy, which houses the ESL and developmental reading and writing courses, service learning has been an important part of our curriculum.  Many of the courses we offer, including separate reading and writing courses evenly divided between ESL and “Native Speaker” sections, implement service-learning projects that involve organizations off-campus.

Needless to say, the student population of the Department of Academic Literacy, representing a wide variety of nationalities, cultures, and languages, is quite distinct from the population of many four-year institutions where much of the research on service-learning has taken place and where the students being discussed are assumed by their instructors to reflect white, middle class values (Mitchell et al.). QCC is one of the most diverse colleges in the United States, with students coming from over 130 countries and speaking over 80 languages. Currently, our general QCC student population is 28% Hispanic, 25% Asian or Pacific Islander, 25% Black, and 22% White. Almost 30% of students were born outside of the United States. Students within the Department of Academic Literacy represent even greater diversity. Data collected from a survey that Jennifer administered in Spring 2013, along with statistics from the Office of Institutional Research, reveals that although a majority of the general QCC population was born in the United States (70%) and speaks English at home (62%), a vast majority of reading and writing students in our department were born outside of the United States (72% and 78%, respectively) and speak a language other than English at home (72% and 75%, respectively).

The diversity of our students and their status as “remedial” presents a number of significant challenges for faculty who are interested in engaging these students in service-learning projects. Because the population of students enrolled in developmental and ESL courses at our community college is unique, the construct of privileged students that is commonly found in scholarship on service-learning—one that assumes that students come from white, middle class households and help a disadvantaged community—does not accurately represent the complex power dynamics that students negotiate in service-learning projects on our campus. Moreover, because our students are placed into non-credit-bearing courses that signify them as other for reasons that may involve language background, nationality, educational preparedness, or even a score on a standardized test, and because these courses may delay students’ ability to take courses toward graduation, our students often report feeling marginalized by their designation as remedial or ESL within the larger college community. Further, because developmental and ESL students may lack confidence in their own reading and writing abilities, Jennifer and Julia have observed that it takes some time to convince their students that they can contribute to an organization in a meaningful way. Finally, Jennifer and Julia’s previous attempts at utilizing a traditional service-learning model in previous semesters revealed that both community organizers and faculty in other disciplines were hesitant to work with students who, based on their academic backgrounds, seemed unlikely to contribute reliably to a long-term project.

In order to mitigate the concerns of both students and our community partner, we worked to extend our project beyond simply asking students to perform a civic service through volunteer work. The KHRCA, which is a well-funded and prestigious cultural center on our campus, resembled a museum more than a community organization representing an underprivileged population. The KHRCA, under the leadership of Executive Director Arthur Flug, is made up of a permanent exhibition area documenting the history of the Holocaust through artifacts, archival materials, audio recordings, video, and survivor testimonies; a gallery where new exhibits pertaining to the Holocaust, human rights atrocities, and Jewish history are created each semester by a Holocaust scholar; a library consisting of almost 5,000 books and 1,200 films discussing the Holocaust; and finally, the Genocide Gallery–a high-tech classroom with panels documenting various genocides that have taken place throughout the world, including those in Armenia, Cambodia, and Darfur. This atmosphere ensured that students entered the space with feelings of respect and fascination, which enabled the formation of a more complex and reciprocal relationship between students and community partners. Because “the mission of the KHRCA is to use the lessons of the Holocaust to educate current and future generations about the ramifications of unbridled prejudice, racism, and stereotyping,” the KHRCA became a significant resource for students who received knowledge, wisdom, and advice from community members and Holocaust survivors who had experienced both great suffering as well as great success over the course of their lives (“Home”). This benefit to students ensured that the relationship that they shared with the community organization served to meet important needs for both groups.

Designing a Service-Learning Project with the KHRCA

Upon joining the staff of the KHRCA in the fall semester of 2012, Marisa made service-learning projects a priority for the KHRCA after having done this work at another institution. A relationship with the Department of Academic Literacy was established when Marisa learned that this department had a strong commitment to service-learning and implementing high-impact practices into its teaching models. After attending a presentation by the department on successful past projects in the Fall 2012 semester, Marisa made connections with multiple faculty members, including Jennifer and Julia, who began to integrate the resources from the KHRCA into their curricula for the following semester. Faculty brought their classes to the KHRCA for presentations on the Holocaust, hate crimes, the Korean Comfort Women, or genocide. At times, the KHRCA also provided opportunities for a Holocaust survivor to share their stories with students.

Marisa spoke with many faculty members who had ideas for projects they felt were service-learning because they involved a community partner and took students outside of the classroom. However, many of these proposed projects did not provide a clear benefit to the partner. These projects would educate students on the Holocaust and human rights atrocities and bring new students to visit the KHRCA—both wonderful results—but they would not be reciprocal relationships. Also, many proposed projects would require a large work demand on the small staff of the Center. So the question became how can we develop a project that will result in students contributing to our institution in a meaningful and mutually beneficial way?

Marisa joined Jennifer and Julia for several weeks of planning to develop a project that could address these difficult challenges. After lessons and supplemental readings in the classroom, along with two presentations at the KHRCA, the students were prepared to interview the Holocaust survivors. A group of six survivors were chosen to participate in this service-learning project due to their experience and comfort level with speaking.  

Benefits of the Project for Students

The final product for this project, a thank-you booklet titled Understanding: Learning About the Holocaust by Interviewing Survivors, was the result of various reflective writing assignments that students completed during the semester, including journals where students were provided the space to describe both the events leading up to interviews as well as the interviews themselves. Students also wrote in-class essays that described and analyzed their interview experiences and connected these experiences to aspects of their own lives.

In their reflection journals, students, particularly those in Julia’s reading class, expressed how much they had learned about the Holocaust, even though they felt extremely challenged by the rigorous content. In the reading class, the ESL students confessed to knowing very little about the Holocaust or even contemporary hate crimes. Most of the students, especially those who had immigrated to the U.S. later in life, had received little education regarding the specific events of the Holocaust. One reading student in Julia’s class reflects:

Reading Parallel Journeys was a challenging experience for me, but it helped me to improve my reading and critical thinking skills. Besides I learned background about WWII. This part was the most interesting. I enjoyed reading about the differences between Germans and Jewish people. After reading this book, I was more interested to meet with the survivors and hear their stories. The events from the book were the same like the ones the survivors told us about. It helped me visualize what I had read about.

In a similar vein, students in Jennifer’s developmental writing class, although generally more familiar with the history of events during WWII than Julia’s ESL students, also expressed feeling that their overall knowledge of the Holocaust had expanded. They stated they were more prepared for the interviews because they made multiple visits to the KHRCA where they heard presentations, were shown films depicting the subject-matter, read related readings, and participated in in-depth conversations regarding what they had learned. One of Jennifer’s writing students articulates her cognitive growth in an in-class reflective essay:

I always thought the Holocaust was a simple attack where [Adolf] Hitler and his political group the Nazi came and conquered Germany. I didn’t realize that Hitler did not only conquer Germany, but Poland too. I didn’t understand that his plan was to eliminate all Jews. My survivor explained that this was the result of hatred and hatred was the Holocaust. I am starting to understand the depth of the Holocaust.

The above quote also demonstrates how, in addition to gaining knowledge about the Holocaust, our students were able to think critically about the nature of hatred, forgiveness, and strength. In many ways, the Holocaust survivors became role models as students learned about their perseverance. While this certainly reflects the type of relationship between students and community partner that Mitchell identifies as essential in critical service-learning, it also demonstrates how students benefited from the project intellectually and emotionally.   

As the survivors’ stories unfolded, the students were able to directly connect experiences from their lives to what the survivors were portraying to them. One writing student states:

My reflection on this project is a heart-touching one. I got the opportunity to interview X who is a real sign of hope. She told us her experience in the Holocaust. I was touched by her story. I have kids. So when she told us what happened to the kids, it got me a little emotional. Her story made me think about my family and how I would live without them. She is a really strong lady who showed us what real strength is.

In this quote, the student was able to analyze and compare her survivor’s experience of living through atrocities during the Holocaust to her love and appreciation of her own family. Here she focuses on her interviewee’s strength, positioning the interviewee as a model for overcoming trauma and surviving in the face of suffering that the student will be able to look back to in the future.

Reflecting upon their emotional responses to this project, students also noted the extent to which they gained confidence to complete their interviews as they got to know the Holocaust survivors and some discovered a kinship upon learning that all the survivors were immigrants who also had to learn English on coming to the United States. Here is one representative quote from an ESL student:

Before the interview, I was very nervous because I wasn’t sure of what to ask the survivor. I didn’t want to make questions that would make them feel uncomfortable. However, after we started to talk to her (the survivor) I felt better because she gave us the confidence to ask her whatever we wanted. I think that in the future I will have the strength to speak to native speakers more easy and try to help people that need it. Usually, I like to stay to myself but this experience has changed me.

Before interviewing the survivor, this student had been hesitant and apprehensive; however, as the student began to relate on a personal and comfortable level with the survivor, she developed confidence to engage with others and to act upon the knowledge that she gained through the project. This demonstrates another tenant of critical service-learning: here the student shows how, through her relationship with her interviewee, she becomes an active participant not only in the project but also in her interactions in larger communities.

By reading, writing, and reflecting on issues related to the Holocaust and contemporary hate crimes before interviewing the survivors, the students were able to develop meaningful social connections with the survivors as well as a booklet to give them as a tangible expression of gratitude. Moreover, this booklet has become a successful fundraising tool for the KHRCA that already has brought in money for the center. The booklet was sent to a past funder and helped to secure a donation of $10,000 for the following fiscal year.

Benefits of the Project to the Holocaust Survivors and the KHRCA

In past experiences of using survivor testimony in the classroom, it is the students who receive the most benefit. However, in the case of this service-learning project, the survivors strongly benefited from the project as well. The survivors have a strong desire to share their stories so that they and the family members they have lost will not be forgotten. The students who get the opportunity to hear the survivors’ stories firsthand serve as insurance policies–a promise that they will remember and continue to share that story long after that survivor is gone. These particular students and survivors also had a unique connection. They were able to unite over their shared experiences, particularly that of being immigrants, learning a new language, or over religious and cultural discrimination. The booklet that was presented was particularly well received by survivors. The survivors were so impressed with the booklet that each of them asked for additional copies to distribute to their friends and family. Survivors also expressed an eagerness to be invited back to speak to more classes in the future.

From the perspective of the KHRCA as an organization, the final booklet that was created by the students has brought the most tangible benefit to the KHRCA. The booklet has been distributed to both established and prospective funders as an example of the excellent work that has been produced within the KHRCA. The booklet has been given to Holocaust survivors who are new members and who are interested in volunteering at the site to show how their services would be used. It has been brought to events along with other flyers and brochures to serve as a marketing tool. In addition, the booklet has also been distributed to other members of the QCC faculty to help foster new ideas for future projects and programs.

Due to the success of this service-learning project, there was a significant increase in collaborations with the Department of Academic Literacy the following semester. Because of this new interest, a workshop was developed for adjunct instructors in the department to learn about the KHRCA and their services, to hear about past projects including this service-learning project, and to get ideas for future high-impact projects. Participation numbers from the department clearly indicate the impact the service-learning project has ultimately made on the KHRCA:

Fall 2012 Semester: 4 professors in Academic Literacy

9 classes visiting the KHRCA

204 students impacted

Fall 2013 Semester: 13 professors in Academic Literacy

36 classes visiting the KHRCA

1,079 students impacted

Results: Faculty increase of 225%

Class increase of 300%

Student increase of 429%

In the Fall 2013 semester, the KHRCA was also involved in three new service-learning projects, two of which were done with faculty who had never interacted with the KHRCA before. Many new relationships have been established with Academic Literacy faculty, and the number of these types of collaborations is predicted to increase in future semesters.


This project fostered a lasting, mutually beneficial relationship between all individual participants as well as between the KHRCA and the Department of Academic Literacy. By working together, Jennifer, Julia, and Marisa were able to conceive a project that would benefit both our unique population of developmental students and the KHRCA as well as ensure many future collaborations. As Mitchell describes in her conceptualization of critical service-learning, such relationships are established only through careful and meaningful coordination between community partner and instructors as well as through a project design that ensures all participants listen to and learn from one another and build a community together (“Critical” 103).

As we reflect on this project and consider the effects it had on both the students and Holocaust survivors who participated, we believe that our careful collaboration between community organization and participating instructors, the meaningful development of thematic curriculum, and the production of a project that truly benefits the community organization as well as the students who created it are essential to establish a model of critical service-learning that ensures a reciprocal relationship between participating individuals and organizations. What is more, our project reflects Mitchell’s outline of critical service-learning as it empowered both students and Holocaust survivors to share their experiences with one another and to build a better understanding of hatred, forgiveness, and perseverance together. It also bolstered the relationship between the KHRCA and the Department of Academic Literacy and promotes social change by encouraging our developmental and ESL students, who often are marginalized based on their educational and linguistic backgrounds, to contemplate the nature and consequences of historical tragedies and to educate others on the Holocaust. The final booklet produced in this collaboration demonstrates the myriad benefits this project provided participants: the Department of Academic Literacy uses it to showcase the abilities of its students and the possible contributions they could provide to community organizations, the KHRCA uses it to expand its educational program, the Holocaust survivors see it as a tangible representation of the value of sharing their stories, and the students see it as tangible example of their ability to contribute to the college.

To a certain extent both groups—students and Holocaust survivors— represent the college and the community in differing ways. As QCC students, the student participants did represent the college as they entered the KHRCA and interviewed Holocaust survivors; however, the Holocaust survivors and the KHRCA also are part of the college as they contribute to an important cultural resource on campus. Uniting developmental writing and ESL students with Holocaust survivors allowed both groups to see the college as well as their position within the college in a new light. Both the students and the Holocaust survivors became members of one community as they worked on this project, sharing their experiences and learning from one another. The community that they forged together reflected and represented the college as well as a wide variety of cultural and linguistic communities outside of the college. Rather than positing one participating community as privileged above another, based on categories of race/ethnicity, socio-economics, or position in relation to the college, this project allowed students to learn about the community group with which they worked and also encouraged them to consider how the knowledge and understanding that they developed connected to their own lives. Their insights were then highlighted and celebrated in the final booklet and the end-of-semester celebration.

Ultimately, it is difficult to say who is in a position of privilege within this project or who benefited more. It would be easy to argue, in fact, that both participating students and Holocaust survivors felt privileged to listen and learn from one another. The Holocaust survivors learned about students’ lives and their capacity for empathy and careful reflection as they discussed their Holocaust experiences with students. In addition, our students not only learned about the Holocaust and human perseverance, but they also learned to see themselves as important members of a campus community. Having their writing displayed at one of QCC’s prized cultural institutions—the KHRCA—positioned them not only inside the college community but at the forefront of it. This particular benefit of critical service-learning is not one that often is highlighted, perhaps because much of the literature on service-learning comes out of four-year colleges and discusses students who are assumed to consider themselves representatives of their college and possessing knowledge or skills that a community organization would find beneficial. However, we believe it is crucial to consider when studying the effects of service-learning on students in developmental writing and ESL courses and that this sort of repositioning of developmental and ESL students as campus leaders could be considered a practice of social justice that could be further explored by service-learning practitioners.

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1. Jennifer, Julia, and Marisa also worked with Susan Hock, a Lecturer in the Department of Academic Literacy. Susan’s class participated in the project, and Susan worked with us to organize this project.

Acknowledgements: The authors would like to thank Thomas Peele, as well as our anonymous peer reviewers, for invaluable feedback and support as we worked on this article. We also thank Dr. Arthur Flug and Susan Hock for all of their contributions to making this project a success. Most of all, we wish to express our gratitude to all participants—the Holocaust survivors and our students—who shared their stories and dedicated their to this collaboration.

Marisa L. Berman   

Marisa L. Berman is the Assistant Director of the Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives at Queensborough Community College, CUNY. She works with faculty of the college to help integrate the unique resources of the museum into their curricula. Her background is in museology, local history, and cultural studies.  

Julia Carroll  

Dr. Julia Carroll is an associate professor in the Department of Academic Literacy at Queensborough Community College, CUNY. Her main research interests include service-learning, second language acquisition, assessment, and composition theory and pedagogy.   

Jennifer Maloy  

Jennifer Maloy is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Academic Literary at Queensborough Community College, CUNY, where she teaches developmental writing and reading, ESL writing, and freshman composition. Her scholarly interests include multilingual students’ construction of identity in the writing classroom, service-learning at community colleges, and accelerated learning in developmental education.