Before classes even began, Hamline’s incoming class of first-year students started making a difference and giving back to the community they just joined. As part of fall orientation, more than 500 new students fanned out across the Twin Cities to volunteer at nonprofit organizations through a program called City Serve.
“Participating in City Serve is one example of Hamline’s mission to teach our students how to lead successful lives of leadership, scholarship, and service, and connect it with the pursuit of the common good,” Daniel Campbell, communications assistant to the Wesley Center for Spirituality, Service, and Social Justice, said. “Students volunteer, learn about their community and each other, and are challenged to connect this experience with what they’ll be learning in their classes.”
Students volunteered at more than 20 organizations: stocking food shelves, working at a homeless shelter, bar-coding books at a GLBTQ library, working in the studio of Heart of the Beast Puppet Theatre, yard work for elderly residents, cleaning up along Snelling and University avenues, and clearing brush at an outdoor educational center.
“I volunteered a lot in high school, and that’s one reason I picked Hamline because they are really committed to being part of their community,” Signey Dangeur of Spring Valley, Wisconsin said. “I know there are a lot of service opportunities here so I hope to continue volunteering throughout the year.”
The particular City Serve projects students worked on were not just randomly chosen. Many were directly related to the topic students will study in their first-year seminar. The FySems, as they’re known, offer incoming students practice in skills needed to succeed in college, a sense of community within a small class of 16-18 students, and an introduction to a topic they are interested in. Subjects include: literature, economics, science, gender identity, social justice, climate change, and more.
“We hope they take this experience with City Serve back into the classroom,” Campbell said. “There, they can really explore issues of community, civic engagement, and the personal connection they’ve made to these different sites, and incorporate that into what they’re learning.”