Understanding resistance: Reflections on race and privilege through service-learning

Michelle M. Espino, Jenny J. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Service-learning has been hailed as an effective means to bridge classroom learning with practical application in the local context. Numerous studies have demonstrated the educational value of service-learning, particularly the potential to build awareness and appreciation for diversity. Students' resistance to even acknowledging issues of oppression, such as racism and classism, has received far less attention. This inquiry explored how 63 undergraduate students responded to issues concerning race and privilege as they participated in a service-learning course and identified sources of resistance (racial/class complicity, racial/class consciousness, and racial/class action) across racial/ethnic and class backgrounds. The study offers new implications for incorporating diversity issues in servicelearning programs. This language barrier, I feel, should be motivation for immigrants to learn English faster because, frankly, when they come to this country, they should have to speak English in all professional, educational, and social settings, no matter what. If an immigrant is resistant to learning the native language, then perhaps they should be restricted to low-income, service-based jobs. (Student in service-learning course).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-152
Number of pages17
JournalEquity and Excellence in Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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