Water Blogged

The Far-Ranging Benefits of Service Learning

Posted by Nick Coughlin on June 6, 2019

Former H2O for Life participant, Megan Perpich

Megan Perpich first learned about H2O for Life in her ninth grade geography class. It was meant to complement the students’ learning about the world, people, culture, and economics. It did that and more.

“H2O for Life made it real,” says Perpich. “We learned the harsh realities of the world and how the world operates. It involved us and allowed us to see that the change and impact we can make is important and critical and incredibly needed. H2O for Life can’t be compared to anything else you do in the classroom.”

Impacting Lives through Service Learning

Perpich’s involvement in H2O for Life had far ranging consequences. She found through service learning that she could put energy and time into a project and have a real impact in the world.

And that made all the difference—Perpich was inspired to work for the betterment of people. Though only a college freshman, Perpich is already involved in projects that will improve people’s lives the world over. In March 2019, Perpich co-led a student leadership team that illustrated best practices in education at the SXSW Education Conference (which fosters innovation in learning). Perpich also worked with the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s food pharmacy program to optimize a service that prescribes food as medicine and participated in a global brain health research project that works to better understand the connection between loneliness and health.

In addition, Perpich serves as a North American Outreach Intern for Minerva University, an international university that emphasizes practical skills and fosters critical thinking. Perpich is responsible for coming up with creative ways to reach students who are a good fit for the school.

Preparing Tomorrow’s Leaders

Service learning experiences with H2O for Life and other organizations provide opportunities to develop the critical thinking and leadership skills that all young people need to learn, Perpich says. After all, it’s the young people who will be tomorrow’s decision-makers, and they often can contribute new and innovative solutions, she adds.

“Young people will be the ones making decisions,” Perpich explains. “We can’t expect young people to know how to do this without practice, and that practice needs to start young. It’s better to involve young people in these decisions, because they have a different perspective on how they look at issues.”

Drawing Inspiration from Others

Perpich gets inspiration from a number of people, starting with Sara Damon, the leader of her H2O for Life team. Perpich was also influenced by the book, “I am Malala,” which she says made her think about how her education differs or is the same as that of people from around the world, and Ted Talk presenter Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old who has Asperger syndrome and is fighting to preserve the planet.

“She (Thunberg) is extremely motivating,” Perpich says. “She makes me rethink how I can be more sustainable and strong in my opinions and beliefs and not feel weighed down because I feel like there’s no way I can make a difference or enact change because I’m just one person.”

A Future Focused on Global Service

While Perpich hasn’t settled on a specific career, she knows she’ll work in area that will improve people’s lives. While she plans to double major in natural and social sciences, Perpich is also interested in international relations, international development, and genetics. She hopes to tie all those interests together, perhaps by working in public health at the international level.

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