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FULE House Experience Provides Practical Education for Students

FULE House Experience Provides Practical Education for Students

Current Frogtown Urban Living Experience (FULE) House students in front of a community member’s home. (Photo Credit: provided by Caissa Dieatrick)

Since its reestablishment in 2005, Bethel’s Frogtown Urban Living Experience (FULE) has been enabling students to gain practical life and career experience while living and serving in St. Paul’s historic Frogtown neighborhood.

The FULE House provides housing for up to six Bethel students each year, all of whom regularly attend Urban Homeworks seminars and participate in weekly community engagement. The experience requires students to take a course called “Intentional Urban Living,” through which they explore the meaning of community and the unique issues that arise in a city setting. Anthropology Professor Harley Schreck, whose participation with the FULE House traces back to 1991, served as the most recent course instructor and FULE House Advisor. “[Students] are fully involved in the neighborhood—” he says, “volunteering with various organizations, getting involved in neighborhood issues, and learning how to be responsible, engaged citizens.”

Participation in service learning and internships, combined with invaluable opportunities to meet and work with powerful community leaders, allows students to develop professional etiquette and learn what it means to be a good neighbor in a diverse community, says Assistant Director of Community Engagement and Service Learning Tanden Brekke. For one recent internship, students created short documentary films for clients, just one example of the many unique ways students in the FULE House have contributed to the community. The internship provided students with hands-on technical skills and applicable professional experience communicating with customers.

Additionally, exposure to the racial and socioeconomic diversity of the Frogtown neighborhood impacts the way students view other cultures. Elementary Education major Caissa Dieatrick, ’18 appreciates the ability the FULE House gives her to live in the same neighborhood as the students she teaches at St. Paul City School. “I wanted to be able to see the world from my students’ perspective and be sharing the same space as them, not driving in and out from the suburbs each day. I didn't want to be ignorant of the challenges they face or the reality of the world they live in.”

Dieatrick feels she is better prepared to connect with others as a result of her FULE House experience: “I am more open-minded and critically aware of what is going on around me.”

Alyssa Knight ’19 also feels her FULE House experience has equipped her for the future. “As a social work major, this experience has opened my eyes to the vast amount of differences in human experiences we face,” she says. “What I have learned from this experience will forever follow me as I work with individuals from other cultures and living situations.”

Beyond developing practical skills and a greater appreciation for the diversity around them, students receive opportunities to strengthen their faith during their time in the FULE House. Brekke, who worked with Bethel Campus Ministries before transitioning to his current position, says students learn to “refine and own their faith” through the experience.

Knight agrees. “My faith has grown as I’ve seen God ‘out of the classroom,’” she says. “I have learned how God is not just in those safe spaces I go, but He is working in a community.” Through an increased awareness of God’s hand at work, students are able to further discover how to live out their faith commitment in today’s pluralistic society, especially when it comes to determining what it means to be a loving neighbor.

To learn more about FULE, visit the program web page.