Becoming Community(Adapted from "Learning Through Service")
In the essay, Social Change Model of Leadership Development (Astin & Astin, 1996), the authors look at ways to help people to turn into strong leaders. All students in community-based learning classes are ready to learn and practice leadership because these classes are chances to be a positive influence to others.
According to Astin & Astin, a leader is:
One who is able to effect positive change for the betterment of others, the community, and society. All people, in other words, are potential leaders. Moreover, the process of leadership cannot be simply described in terms of the behavior of an individual; rather, leadership involves collaborative relationships that lead to collective action grounded in the shared values of people who work together to effect positive change. (p.16)
A leader is a change agent (one who creates change) working in an active, collaborative process with others. More than likely, you will find yourself being a change agent as you engage in the community-based learning experience on three levels of involvement: the individual, the group, and the community.
Each level of leadership affects the others: that is, individual students impact the group dynamic and process affects each individual; the group works in together to effect positive change in the community, which then in turn affects the group; and each individual connects with the service activity in the community and is then shaped by that direct experience as well.