Last weekend I broke down a wall, crossed the line, got a life and came out.
And from these activities I learned to break the habit of stereotyping, cross over my comfort zone, live in the “real world” and be supportive of someone who is coming out to their family and friends. I acquired all these priceless lessons at a retreat with my The Process of Paraprofessional Counseling for Young Adults (EDCO 030x) course, the class students who want to be R.A.s are required to take.
The class and retreat provide valuable knowledge and insight into different cultures, religions and races; however, unlike a typical class, students teach each other about their backgrounds and beliefs with the guidance and encouragement of the instructors. And in this open and free environment, I learned about Chinese symbols, black history, Jewish customs and Czech surnames.
This experience was unlike any general education class that focuses solely on one background or culture, as I got to learn a little bit about several. That’s not to say the instructors’ role in the class should be undermined, because they teach us theories and methods that help steer and facilitate our opportunity for personal growth.
As part of the curriculum, the teachers present ideas developed by theorists that directly address students’ transition into college life. In fact, some of the theories are so dead on, they could have predicted my initial experiences and struggles within the college setting before I arrived at USC, which could have prevented a whole lot of emotional stress, or at least given me a heads up.
The theories themselves do not signify the relevance of the class though; rather they engage students’ ability to consider these ideas and use them as tools to personally develop and successfully continue their journey through college.
Now that the retreat is over and I have returned to USC with a greater desire to learn with respect for those around me, the class has taken a turn and we are moving on — from focusing on our personal identities to helping others cope with and maintain their own. Counseling is a major part of the course, and, although it is generally intended for helping residents, it is useful information that students can utilize to help their friends work through issues or troubles. The class also informs students about go-to organizations on campus that can also provide assistance, such as the counseling services at the University Park Health Center.
Based on my personal experience, I believe the course should be a general requirement course for all USC students. I’ve dived into one class from each general education category and none offer the necessary applications to daily life that this class does.
Because of EDCO, I am a more tolerant human being and work toward understanding the differences and similarities of people from diverse backgrounds.
Another engaging aspect of the class is that it is taken for credit rather than an actual letter grade. That way, students can learn without being tested on their knowledge because each person takes away something different from the course. Nevertheless, the class does not fill any major or GE requirements, so it’s only worth elective units, which might be a turn off to students.
Although I didn’t believe it after hearing it, EDCO students end up becoming very close with their classmates. We have learned so much about each other that it’s hard not to bond and find comfort in our peers’ stories and experiences. Thus, this class is also a good option for students, especially freshmen who are shy and find difficulty meeting new friends.
Neither my astronomy nor my philosophy class could provide me with the applicable and relevant information this class provides. In addition, despite the choice of about 116 GE courses offered each semester, I usually take the classes that fit my overall schedule, which removes all the intrigue of picking out courses of interest.
Most classes are usually full before I register, and others are offered at hours that conflict with my other courses. So those who argue that students have the ability to choose their GEs are wrong. Of the six categories I have signed up for, I was only able to pick one of them. My social issues GE did somewhat acknowledge and support diversity, but my EDCO class truly hits the points home.
Each GE class is designed to keep students well versed in a variety of subject areas and to help guide those without a solid feel for future career paths. I could have told you from the get-go, however, that I would not become a philosophy or science major. Regardless of one’s vocational interests, the value of EDCO shines through and has the ability to change our campus culture positively.
Danielle Nisimov is a sophomore majoring in public relations. Her column “On the SCene “ runs Thursdays.