07 April 2020 | Story Rulanzen Martin | Photo Supplied
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Nadia Smith aspires to become a music therapist and is grateful for the experience she has gained.

To engage in a service learning project is equal to “one hand washing the other”. This is how Nadia Smith, recipient of this year’s UFS Service Learning Award views the concept of service learning. 

Smith is a third-year BMus student in the Odeion School of Music (OSM) at the University of the Free State (UFS). “It is indeed a privilege to be rewarded as the best Service Learning student and receive the 2002 UFS Service Learning Award,” Smith says.

Service learning has been incorporated into the UFS curriculum as a module in 2020. Students have the opportunity to gain practical experience and apply and execute theory by teaching others in disadvantaged communities who benefit from the service provided by gaining new knowledge and skills. 
Smith’s service module required her to teach at the Brandwag Primary School in Bloemfontein. “On Friday afternoons we had the opportunity to teach music to learners who otherwise would not have been exposed to music education,” Smith says. The service learning module varies from programme to programme. “The Brandwag learners received us gracefully and participated with enthusiasm during lessons. I truly realised the value of these classes when the learners asked us to teach more frequently.” 

Agent of change in the making

Smith strives to be an active agent of change with her involvement in numerous community-based projects including the OSM Music Education Marimba project in Heidedal in Bloemfontein. “The project aims to teach marimba to children from the Heidedal community which culminates in a concert by the children at the end of the year,” she says. This project is in collaboration with the Reach Our Community foundation

Apart from her role in the Heidedal project she has also been teaching at the Lettie Fouche School in Bloemfontein. “It is very rewarding to experience the positive influence of music education on the children and to observe their development in various areas as a result of exposure to classroom music,” Smith says. 

“As a music student striving to eventually become a music therapist I am grateful for opportunities to gain exposure and experience in various fields.”

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