Baruch Students Spend Spring Break Helping Communities in Need
Students Give Their Time to Communities in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
NEW YORK, NY - April 1, 2013 – While many college students spent Spring Break relaxing on a beach, a group of Baruch College students spent their free time in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., helping communities in need.
Both trips are part of Student Life’s Service Learning program that offers dynamic opportunities for students to develop as engaged citizens by integrating community service, guided reflection, and active group dialogue in a non-classroom environment that is beyond the boundaries of their local community. Participation in a service learning trip helps increase students’ understanding of current social issues and inspires them to work toward “meaningful change.” The trips were managed by Baruch’s Office of Student Life and financially co-sponsored and supported by its Undergraduate Student Government.
“It was an eye opening experience for many of the students,” said Ben Messner, Associate Director of Student Affairs at Baruch College.
One group (nine students and two staff members) traveled to Philadelphia, PA to help with Habitat for Humanity. The students included: David Bassin (sophomore), Luis Bocanegra (junior), Jackelyne Diaz (freshman), Brittany Goode (sophomore), Melanie Ho (sophomore), Jessica Lam (sophomore), Patricia Morel (senior), Silvia Pan (junior) and Aiman Tariq (senior).
Students partnered with Habitat for Humanity in their efforts to support the West Philadelphia community’s needs in affordable housing and resources. On Tuesday, March 26, the team spent half a day in the Habitat RESTORE center organizing donations, cleaning, learning about the services provided by the program. On Wednesday, March 27, the team spent 8 hours at two different volunteer sites.
At the first site the team cleaned out a woman’s basement so a new heating system could be installed. The woman had not been able to live in the house over the winter since the old heater was broken. Next the team joined with other Habitat volunteers at a build site. Students unloaded a 40’ truck of supplies, hung dry wall, installed a portion of a roof, and organized supplies. The trip concluded with a tour of the historical sites of Philly and a workshop about affordable housing issues at Project Home.
"I decided to volunteer my time during spring break because I wanted to do something that would be worth my time," said Baruch student Aiman Tariq. "I can go party or sleep any other time or any other weekend but getting a chance to help people is a chance that doesn’t come often, especially a three-day trip. I thought my time would be better served there then elsewhere and I was right."
In Washington, D.C., 19 Baruch students and two staff members had an opportunity to learn about homelessness and hunger. Students stayed at The Pilgrimage, a service learning hostel in Dupont Circle, DC, and explored the issues of homelessness and hunger. The students split time between hands-on service and experiential learning activities.
Highlights of the trip included serving at the D.C. Food bank and visits to the offices of Senator Chuck Schumer and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. Students attended workshops led by homeless men on advocacy and poetry writing, and handed out food and supplies to homeless people in parks in Dupont Circle.
The students chose to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) challenge throughout their stay in Washington, D.C. The students were divided into “families” and each “family” was given a food stamp budget to purchase their food for the day. Then the students cooked their own food at the hostel.
"Perhaps the most surprising part of this trip was hearing the stories from James (a homeless man), and others," said Candelaria Saavedra, a freshmen at Baruch. "They were very articulate and smart, compared to what homeless people are usually perceived as. Many stereotypes were broken. A homeless person could be walking around us and we wouldn't even notice."
Candelaria said she would consider participating in this project again.
"Not only did I get to the opportunity to give back to the community, but I also got the chance to learn and grow as a person," she said.
Candelaria and other Baruch students were also given time to explore the city and its historical monuments. The students who volunteered in Washington, D.C., included: Jacgueline Aquino (freshman), Mamadou Bassoum (junior), Katherine Bedoya (senior), Myranda Caraballo (junior), Soobin Choi (sophomore), Moustafa Elkholy (junior), Christopher Eubanks (sophomore), Lina Garzon (junior), Erika Gomez (junior), Elizabeth Griffin (senior), Ying Jian (senior), Sebastiaan Kelder (freshmen), Miguel A. Osorio (junior), Thomas Pan (junior), Jerryl Patterson (senior), Candelaria Saavedra (freshmen), Ruixiang Wu (junior), and Pema Dolka (senior), and Porscha Johnson (sophomore).
About Baruch College:
Baruch College is a senior college in the City University of New York (CUNY) with a total enrollment of more than 17,000 students, who represent 160 countries and speak more than 100 languages. Ranked among the top 15% of U.S. colleges and the No. 5 public regional university, Baruch College is regularly recognized as among the most ethnically diverse colleges in the country. As a public institution with a tradition of academic excellence, Baruch College offers accessibility and opportunity for students from every corner of New York City and from around the world. For more about Baruch College, go to http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/.
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