Rachel Jensen offered to share her experience as a freshman working in the hunger issue area.
I came into the First-Year Student Outreach Project my freshman year with relatively low expectations. I figured it would be nice to meet a few people and to move in early, even though I didn’t get my first choice in terms of issue areas. I was placed in the Hunger Issue Area, which is something I did not really know about and was not passionate about at all. I was excited about being at BU and about service, but I didn’t think that FYSOP would really affect my BU experience. However, the moment I stepped off the airplane, the FYSOP staff members were there to greet me and to prove to me that I made the right choice by participating in FYSOP.
One site we went to was Wellspring Food Pantry in Hull. Some people stayed in the pantry and the rest of us went to other parts of the center, such as their thrift store, to help clean up. This is the part of my freshman FYSOP experience that I look back to the most because it was a moment where we realized that we could make a difference and it was up to us to step up and do it. College is all about stepping up and being an advocate for yourself, and through FYSOP and the Community Service Center, we can be advocates for others as well.
I came to FYSOP unaware about hunger and how it affects people in my backyard. A week later, I found myself eating responsibly in the dining hall and only asking for portions that I would finish. I found myself actively thinking about the amount of food that gets thrown out every day and doing my part to reduce my waste. FYSOP was what I expected in that I met new friends and got acclimated to BU, but it was so much more in that I learned something new every day about an issue area that I never really considered. Hunger is not only an issue for “third-world” countries; it is a problem for all countries.
FYSOP is an incredible experience that has shaped by BU experience and my life. I came back as staff last year for disabilities, another issue area that I knew very little about, and now I am a coordinator for the new Animals issue area. My peers and I come back every year for a new educational experience because that is what FYSOP is all about: learning through service.
-Rachel Ann Jensen
Last week, I shared my story about my experience as a freshman in the elders issue area. This week, Hana Vackova has offered to share her story about her experience as a staff member for the Gender Focus issue area.
Last year, I had an amazing time being part of FYSOP’s Gender Focus issue area. Apart from the mass of friendly, energetic and passionate people I got to meet, two other things stood out for me about Gender Focus:
The first thing was the broad reach of Gender Focus. It encompasses not just LGBT issues, but also less talked-about problems, mainly domestic violence and eating disorders. Thanks to guest speakers who came to talk to us I learned about issues I hadn’t thought about before – domestic violence among the gay population, and the isolation and loneliness felt by a generation of elderly gay men. It really put things into perspective for me when I heard one of the guest speakers tell his tale of escaping Nazi Germany where he was to be imprisoned in a concentration camp only to be forced into a heterosexual marriage here in the US. However, it wasn’t until the recent years that he started feeling comfortable with being open about his sexual orientation. His story was inspirational, but also reminded me that there is still a lot to be improved about how our society treats the LGBT community.
The second thing that amazed me was how personal Gender Focus can be. It is perhaps the only issue area where the student volunteers themselves can also be the demographic that the issue area focuses on. For me, the learning process wasn’t limited to my visits to the sites, but also happened naturally when I took the time to listen and talk to some of the student volunteers. I heard powerful personal stories about gay students coming out in unsupportive environments, but also stories about abusive boyfriends or beating anorexia. For someone like me who love listening to people’s personal stories, Gender Focus was a goldmine. All of this made my experience with this issue area unique and unforgettable.
But the best part? Seeing how our volunteer work helped make a difference on state level. During FYSOP, I volunteered with MassEquality, a transgender rights organization. We were canvassing and talking to citizens with the goal of building community support for a proposed Transgender Equal Rights Bill. And guess what, the bill was passed by the Massachusetts legislature later that year!
Remember, we’d love to hear about your experience! Send us an email at email@example.com!
In order to help freshman make decisions about their issue areas for FYSOP, we’ve decided to highlight some stories about our own experiences in FYSOP. When I was a freshman, I volunteered with the elders issue area. Here’s my story.
FYSOP pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone. Originally, I had selected “children” as my number one issue area. Volunteering with children was something that I had always done—it was safe; it was easy. However, after being a member of the elders issue area freshman year, I am so glad I was given the opportunity to work with elders. The site visits opened my eyes to something I had never experienced before. On my first site visit to Goddard House, I volunteered to go up to the dementia ward. If I had understood what dementia was, I don’t think I would have had the courage to volunteer. When I walked in the room, I was so uncomfortable. I had no idea what to do or what to say. I walked over to a woman by the window with tears dripping down her face. I didn’t know if she’d be able to understand what I was saying or if she even wanted to talk to me at all. I told her a little bit about myself. She watched me closely but didn’t say anything. Feeling more uncomfortable, I asked her if I could get her anything. She smiled and told me I was just like her daughter. She said “she’s a dancer too”. I didn’t think she was listening. She was holding a small doll in her hand and gave it to me to hold. She didn’t say anything else, but the tears in her eyes slowed, and I realized that my company had changed her demeanor. She was calm and relaxed just having me sit next to her.
After lunch, I went downstairs to a lively bunch of elders ready to play games and chit chat. One of the senior citizens put in her Lady Gaga CD and insisted that we hold a dance party. I had a long chat with a Hispanic woman who didn’t speak any English. She was so excited to talk to me in Spanish because she never had the opportunity to speak to anyone except for her son when he came to visit.
On our ride back to BU that evening of our first site visit, I felt a little choked up. I could see that sadness in all of the residents’ eyes as I left the nursing home. After we left, they were alone again. I realized I had never considered how alone the elderly population can feel. I felt an obligation to this forgotten population. I am so glad I had the opportunity to be a part of the elders issue area. It forced me out of my comfort zone and showed me a population I had never before honestly considered. Those few moments of discomfort taught me something I could never possibly forget.
If you’d like to share your own story, we’d love to post it here to share it with the rest of our community! Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s summertime, but the CSC is busy as ever! The FYCOs just finished two weeks of summer training with Orientation staff. In training, the FYCOs learned about BU and what it means to be a student-leader on campus. The FYCOs lived in Warren Towers and spent lots of time together building a close community right from the start. During training, the FYCOs brainstormed and developed a theme for this year’s FYSOP! One day, the FYCOs got out of the office and spent the afternoon at Cradles to Crayons. This was a great way for the FYCOs to bond and to spend time doing what they love: service!
On June 1st the FYCOs and the rest of the CSC staff moved into their apartments in South Campus. After taking the weekend to move in, they began the week by calling sites and working in their project committees. They’ve decorated the office with their colorful bulletin boards for their issue area. Many of the FYCOs have secured sites for FYSOP! We are receiving FYSOP applications faster than ever! We are focusing our efforts on getting the word out about FYSOP by spending time with freshman during Orientation Sessions. It’s been a blast meeting all the incoming freshmen of the Class of 2016!
Our goal in the CSC this summer is to update everything and to try things we’ve never done before. There is so much enthusiasm and passion in the service this summer that we think the CSC will be able to accomplish more than ever before! We’ll keep you updated on our progress!
Since the CSC is a student-run organization, we rely on our volunteers to make the Center what it is today! So, we would like to highlight our volunteers this summer!! Send us any pictures or personal stories about your experience in the CSC! You and your story may be featured in the next blog post!
If you haven’t already, please check the out our website www.bu.edu/csc for more information on our 12 other programs run throughout academic year. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @BUCSC.
The Boston University Community Service Center wants to send a huge shout out to all the volunteers! Whether you volunteered every week, every day or just once– you made a difference in the lives of people in the greater Boston area and beyond.
In case you missed the amazing Volunteer Recognition Ceremony, here is a video created by Development Program Manager Divya Reddy:
If you have not picked up your FREE volunteer T-shirts or your senior gifts, please come by & pick them up!
THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!
Not really sure what this whole Global Day of Service thing is about?
Check out this testimonial by our very own Jackie Johnson:
“When I first saw the site list for Global Day of Service last March, I was convinced I was going to volunteer with Belle of the Ball and find someone the most elegant prom dress in the state of Massachusetts. Well at least that was what I thought until I saw that registration was closed for that site. I was bummed, but I decided to research a few of the other sites and see what they were all about.
I immediately fell in love with the Lowell Wish Project. It is a great day when someone is able to move from a shelter to a permanent home, however, many individuals find it extremely difficult to keep up with paying their rent in addition to furnishing their new house.
The Lowell Wish Project grants wishes by providing furniture, home, and baby goods for individuals and families in need to help keep them on their feet. It is an amazing organization and I was astounded at how so many people can be helped by so few staff members. My best friend and I had a rad time making new friends, sorting donated goods (who knew diapers had sizes?), and making Mother’s Day gifts.
I encourage everyone to volunteer here at some point while a student at BU; it’s a truly rewarding experience.”
Thanks Jackie for those inspiring words!
Global Day of Service is Saturday, April 14, 2012.
Global Day of Service is an annual event at BU where BU Students, Alum, Faculty, Staff and Parents come together to volunteer at various sites throughout Boston and the world.
Why should you register?
Still not convinced?
Check out this awesome video done by Student Activities Office about Global Day of Service!
We hope to see you all at Global Day of Service on April 14!
Get excited! You’re going to…
Meet New People~Bond~Have Fun~Make A Difference
We hope you take lots of pictures & tweet #buasb!
Be safe & have a blast!
You’ve heard of School of Rock
… but get ready for something even better…
AFTERSCHOOL OF ROCK
Saturday, March 3rd 9pm @ Bu Central
The Pale Blue Dog
A suggested $3 donation will go to Afterschool, the oldest program in the CSC which helps provide one-on-one tutoring and creative activities.various schools and community centers in the Greater Boston area. Come out and support this great event!
See you Saturday!
The program who brought you moments like these presents…
SIBSPALOOZA: A SIBLINGS TALENT SHOW
Saturday, February 25 ~ 4pm ~ BU CENTRAL
Come see Big Siblings and Little Siblings share their talents!
Other Performers include:
A suggested donation of $5 will go to buy all the little kiddos in the Siblings program T-shirts. We want to make sure that money is not an issue and all Little Sibs in the program are able to have their own t-shirt.
We hope to see you there!
To learn more about Siblings, CSC’s one-on-one year-long mentoring program, click here.