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BU Global Day of Service Aims for 5,000 Volunteers

Paul Farmer gives tomorrow’s Hubie Jones Lecture


Nearly 5,000 people around the world will join together this weekend to give back to their communities, all in the name of BU. They will feed the hungry in Boston. Clean beaches in Shanghai, China. And host a carnival for children who live in the slums of Islamabad, Pakistan.

These students, alumni, parents, and friends of the University are volunteering in tomorrow’s third annual Global Day of Service, organized by the BU Alumni Association (BUAA) and the University’s Community Service Center (CSC). Last year’s event drew 4,000 volunteers performing more than 25,000 hours of service in 55 cities worldwide. Organizers anticipate breaking that record this year and have added several volunteer sites in cities throughout the United States and on nearly every continent to make participation even easier.

“I really do think that volunteerism is a pillar of what BU stands for,” says Hannah Gathman, the assistant director of programs and events at Development and Alumni Relations. “The University has a long-standing history of service in the area.”

“I think it’s a great way for us to give back to the city that we live in,” adds CSC director Lindsey Kotowicz. “And I don’t think this event would be successful at every school. We do have that love and that passion for serving others.”

Volunteers can work independently in a service project of their own choosing and log their hours online or join one of the numerous preestablished groups in cities ranging from Los Angeles to Austin, Philadelphia to DC, and in countries as far-flung as Nicaragua and Pakistan. Boston-based volunteers can choose from projects that include helping disadvantaged teenage girls select a donated prom dress through Belle of the Ball and assisting the Friends of the Public Garden inspect trees for the invasive Asian long-horned beetle. BU student-athletes are hosting an autism awareness day on Sunday to benefit Athletes 4 Autism.

For those who would like to participate in the Global Day of Service, but are unable to volunteer tomorrow, organizers have built in a cushion so that hours volunteered the week before and the week after the April 14 event can count toward the grand total.

Paul Farmer, international activist and cofounder of Partners in Health, will give the School of Social Work’s Hubie Jones Lecture tomorrow. Photo courtesy of PIH

Paul Farmer, international activist and cofounder of Partners in Health, will give the School of Social Work’s Hubie Jones Lecture in Urban Health tomorrow. Photo courtesy of PIH

The weekend will kick off with the School of Social Work’s Hubie Jones Lecture in Urban Health, delivered this year by international activist Paul Farmer, cofounder of Partners in Health and an infectious disease specialist and medical anthropologist, who has spent the past three decades delivering health care to the poor in Haiti.

“We are very much looking forward to hearing Dr. Farmer’s views on urban health problems from a global perspective,” says Gail Steketee, dean of SSW. “It will be our great pleasure to welcome alumni, students, and faculty from social work, public health, medicine, and other fields with a direct stake in health equity at the local, national and international level.”

In a Harvard Crimson editorial about global health last spring, Farmer wrote that “problems as significant as health-care delivery cannot be solved by medical schools, teaching hospitals, or schools of public health alone. All parts of the university—from undergraduates to emeriti, the college to the professional schools, and the alumni to administration—have something to offer.”

Farmer, the subject of Tracy Kidder’s best-selling book Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World, will discuss why Haiti was so vulnerable on the eve of its devastating January 2010 earthquake and whether it can rebuild to be a better, stronger nation.

The Hubie Jones Lecture in Urban Health, given by PIH cofounder Paul Farmer, will be held tomorrow, April 14, at 10 a.m. at BU’s School of Law Auditorium, 765 Commonwealth Ave.


Interested in registering for BU’s Global Day of Service? Sign up here.


Watch a video on what volunteerism means to the BU community here.

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Leslie Friday, BU Today, Boston University
Leslie Friday

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