As part of their program requirements, Global UGRADs complete at least 20 hours of community service. While at first, this might seem like another requirement to complete, this often ends up being the highlight and most meaningful part of the program for many of the participants. Below are several highlights from community service events that current UGRADs have completed so far. We hope you enjoy reading about their experience!
I have done various types of community service in the U.S. Yet, my favorite one was when I did a presentation of my country to an elementary school provided by my university. To me, community service is a chance to learn new things, and it is a chance for making connections. I have met different kinds of people here and got to know about U.S. culture and also their life stories. It is always a very interesting way to learn how people live differently around the world, especially compared to how you live in your own country and home.
Sokleng Prom, Cambodia, SUNY Plattsburgh
Cynthia and I (also a UGRAD) went to a thrift shop to help them decorate for the Christmas season with the Hunger and Homelessness Club. We set the Christmas trees up and decorated them. We also learned that there is something called tree fluffing, which is basically fluffing trees because they have been clustered for almost a year in a closet to make them look prettier. Most store products are donations from people for those who can’t afford new trees which felt so nice to do because Christmas vibes are so beautiful and everyone deserves to feel them.
Hour Ahmed, Egypt, Grand Valley State University
The first picture has three UGRADs including me, Hervinder and Bergeline. Below is a picture of us helping neighbors in need clean up after Hurricane Ian. It hit our town so badly that we couldn’t live our regular lives for two weeks, and had no power and water for a while. While our school stayed relatively safe thankfully, with only minor damages like broken roofs and trees, a lot of our neighbors have lost their houses, garages, cars, and even loved ones. As soon as we recovered from sheltering in the school arena, we wanted to help out people who were suffering from major damage to their properties. We helped clean up a neighborhood, where we met amazing people who have not lost their energy, even after they lost a lot, including treasured memories.
If you look closely at one of these pictures, you can see the line at the wall which is the height it flooded. I didn’t expect that I would face one’s loss so close before I got there since we were just going there to clean up. But what I encountered there were old photos, albums, and memorabilia that had been worn out due to floods. All I could do was just pick out the less damaged ones and shake off the dirt. It was a life-changing experience that allowed me to be humble in front of nature.
Jeongeun An, South Korea, Florida Gulf Coast University
For my community service, I am working with grape farmers from Mexico. They want to learn English so that they can communicate with English speakers. The organization I am working with is called Literacy Volunteers. These experiences have meant a lot to me because I have seen how hard these farmers work and how much these volunteers want to help. I am also volunteering as a tutor for Spanish 203 students. They are learning about the diversity of the Spanish language and the way to express themselves better in Spanish.
Elian Gonzalez Lara, Panama, Keuka College
To serve the community and seek its prosperity, gives a lot back to me as a person. Volunteering has allowed me to get to know the community’s people from a closer view. It has also given me joy; volunteering makes me feel happy whenever I help and contribute to promoting the community. At Saginaw, I volunteered at the Harvest Table Annual Dinner. I helped set up the dining table and serve food. I also volunteered at the Children’s Festival at the Children’s Museum. We ran the activities for the children and got to play with them and help them through all of the activities. And finally, I volunteered at the Japanese Cultural Festival. I helped take photos during the event and guided the visitors to the different stations. This was a very special experience because I was exposed to the Japanese culture at the same time as helping out the community.
Christina Salman, Israel, Saginaw Valley State University