February 09, 2011

Students engage in social justice efforts

ArtofVolunteeringFull

 January term at Hamline offered students a new opportunity to give back to the community through the university’s Wesley Center for Spirituality, Service, and Social Justice. CityServe January, coordinated by the Wesley Center and Orientation and First-Year Students program, is the latest addition to the university’s service-learning efforts for new students. It involves engaging in volunteer work with Twin Cities’ organization specializing in issues such as homelessness, poverty, hunger, and social change through art.

For five days in January, students assisted with art-focused projects at the Russ Ewald Center for Urban Service, Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, Kulture Klub, Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, and volunteer radio stations KMOJ and KFAI. Volunteers work on tasks that address a specific topic or issue that is important to them.

“CityServe January is about civic engagement for the common good,” Coordinator of Service Learning Sharon Jaffe said. “It develops students' capacities for compassionate action and courageous reflection.”

Evening sessions offered a chance to reflect on the experiences of the day, investigate questions of inequities, and participate in panel discussions with Hamline staff and faculty members from the areas of social justice, spirituality, service-learning, English, and theatre.

"Participating in opportunities like CityServe allows students to become more adept at improving their community,” Jaffe said. “They also learn to ask critical questions related personal responsibility in responding to injustice.”

This January experience is an expanded version of a volunteer project that first-year students participate in the day before they begin classes at Hamline in the fall. Time spent at organizations across Saint Paul allows students to work side-by-side with their fellow classmates, creates new friendships, and serves as a unique introduction to the neighborhood they just became a part of.

You can watch a video of the fall CityServe project on Hamline’s YouTube channel or find more on the Wesley Center for Spirituality, Service, and Social Justice’s webpage.