Big harvest on the day of service
The Community day of Service was an experience where most students shared feeling more connected with the community while others shared having a negative experience as a result of the unpleasant weather and cold lunches.
“It was impossible to clean up in the awful environment and the project was disorganized along with unclear instructions…the rainy weather just made the process more difficult,” says a student who participated in the Blue Zone project at Natividad Park in Salinas.
The Community Service Committee organized the day of service this year, working with local nonprofits to develop connections between our community and the local community.
For the day of service, students were assigned to different projects. Some of the assigned tasks included planting trees and pulling weeds. These projects were performed through cooperation with the Blue Zone project. Other projects called for students to work with students at the Stevenson upper and lower divisions.
Although some students expressed negative opinions toward their respective activities, most of the students reflected that community service provided them the opportunity to socialize and develop an appreciation for our community and nature. Ansam Qureshi, a Junior, who participated in the Blue zone project at the Veterans Park says, “I think the experience was really fun; I think it is a great way to bond with friends and also talk to people that I normally wouldn’t talk to… we get to give back to our community, especially because we are all so privileged to be here and a lot of other people are not; it is an effective way to show our gratitude to nature.” Another junior student, Summer Wang, agrees, “Community service brought up my social awareness and enabled me to make deeper connections with the community surrounding me and gain confidence.”
Joel Fricker, a faculty member who participated in the Blue Zone project at Natividad Park remarks, “We can probably work with service opportunities more often to make it more effective. Our group did the entire garden, so that was a nice accomplishment. But when we left, we still notice some trash remaining since the park was really big…. It was definitely a dirty, hard, wet, and cold day but rewarding at the end.”
Students working at the upper division planned for future community service activities by listing possible associations and events on the day of service. Through group collaboration, there was an encouraging spirit that sparked more participation and motivation. Their goal was to provide more opportunities for students and make community service a more frequent event in the future.
Faculty members and students agreed that service day was beneficial to them, in that they were able to form deeper connections with the community and raise awareness. They felt fulfilled, considering their actions were also actively enhancing the environment and benefiting the Earth. Every piece of trash collected or recycled reduces one less danger to local animals and restores their habitats; removing weeds reduces the risk of pests infecting the plants in the community; planting trees reduces erosion and pollution in waterways as trees also give off oxygen that people need to breathe.
Ultimately, the service day was a great success in improving the environment and effectively supporting the development of the community.