Last week, Jim Dubinsky’s column urged us all to consider how our motto “Ut Prosim — That I may serve” is, in fact, “an invitation to a way of being, an opportunity to acknowledge that service is a privilege, a gift we receive, not give to others.”
With new student orientation in full swing here at Virginia Tech, I am reminded just how quickly August is approaching and how it’s never too early — or too late — to intentionally integrate this Ut Prosim “way of being” into your life.
You may find yourself already a bit stressed out by your current fall 2010 schedule – a mix of difficult classes, part-time work, and extracurricular activities or downtime sprinkled in if the schedule allows.
But, what we’re talking about here isn’t just another task on the list, but rather a new way of approaching all that you already do.
I urge you to reframe your academic, work and social lives so that you might immerse yourself in the community around you, and work towards positive, sustainable change.
Here are some examples to get the ball rolling:
Did you know that there are specific courses offered that are designated “service-learning” courses?
In addition to teaching technical knowledge about a specific subject area, service-learning courses have a hands-on project component that pairs you with a local non-profit organization.
Ask your adviser about courses with a community outreach component within your department to explore this opportunity more — or contact the Center for Student Engagement and Community Partnerships at email@example.com to learn more.
If you qualify for federal work-study, you can specifically search for positions with campus entities doing engagement work or directly with local non-profits. For example, you might research becoming a tutor or site leader in the Community Literacy Corps or just browse the opportunities with service in mind.
Student organizations of all kinds do work that connect students to the community and work to create positive, sustainable change. Plan on going to Gobblerfest on Aug. 27, 2010 to learn about different opportunities to get involved, and when you go, ask groups about what kinds of service projects or philanthropy events they have.
Groups such as the YMCA at Tech and Student Programs offer ongoing opportunities for after-school programs, tutoring, special events and more. Greek life also has a long tradition of service both on and off-campus.
And don’t forget about one of Tech’s largest service events, Relay for Life, which has been recognized as the No. 1 Collegiate Relay in the Nation in 2009 and 2010. Another is the Big Event at Tech involving thousands of student volunteers working throughout the New River Valley community in the second largest event of its kind on college campuses in the U.S.
WEEKENDS AND HOLIDAYS
Take advantage of weekend or holiday time to get involved in your community. If you are looking for a fun and meaningful way to spend your Thanksgiving, winter or spring break, consider one of the service trips offered by organizations such as the YMCA at Tech, Engineers Without Borders, or one of many campus ministry groups.
Or take a long weekend trip with the Appalachian Service Project to help as they are “making homes safer, warmer and drier” while also “remembering, serving and learning.”
For just a one-day opportunity, you might plan to dedicate your Oct. 2, 2010 to Tech’s first Fall Day of Service and join others on campus in a Stop Hunger Now project packing rice to send to Haiti.
These opportunities just represent a few ways for you to explore “Ut Prosim” as a “way of being.”
I hope you consider some of them, or brainstorm some of your own.
As you plan out or future and begin carving out your own niche in the world, I urge you to consider your role as an active and vibrant member of the community that surrounds you — we are truly all in this together.