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NOVA-Manassas students publish life stories of local residents

Students from the Manassas Campus of Northern Virginia Community College published stories of local residents in “Through the Eyes of Others: Memoirs of Our Neighbors.” The students were enrolled in an English composition course with a service learning component in fall 2013. (Some students involved in the project were not available for the photo.)

Students at the Manassas Campus of Northern Virginia Community College have published “Through the Eyes of Others: Memoirs of Our Neighbors,” a collection of stories that chronicle the lives of people in our community. The stories were written by students enrolled in Chalet Jean-Baptiste’s English composition course during the fall 2013 semester.

“The course followed an accelerated pace of learning,” Jean-Baptiste said. “During the first 10 weeks, the students learned various rhetorical methods and wrote essays for each. The last six weeks included organized fieldwork for the service learning component and publication preparation.”

The students donated at least four hours of service time to such local organizations as Caton Merchant House, The Fairmont, Gainesville Health and Rehab Center, Manassas Health and Rehab Center, SERVE Inc. and more.

While volunteering at the community organizations, each student interviewed a resident of the facility to write a story about that person’s life. The tales are full of exciting adventures, triumphs over tragedy, and love lost and found. The people interviewed come from a wide range of backgrounds and native lands as far away as Poland. Many have traveled extensively or served in the military during wartime.

“This was a wonderful opportunity for my students to get to know somebody they would not normally have met. The experience was truly eye opening for many of them,” Jean-Baptiste said.

The stories were printed in an 80-page book as a special keepsake for the students and the interviewees.

Northern Virginia Community College Educational Foundation provided a grant to support the project. To learn more, contact Jean-Baptiste at cjbaptiste@nvcc.edu.

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.