By Erica Ferrera
The First Year Service Experience (FYSE) allows incoming freshman to live on campus before classes start and participate in a weekend of service-related activities. This year, a handful of students, mostly incoming freshman but also a handful upperclassmen, participated in this program, Sept. 2-4.
Their adventure began in the basement of Youth Social Services Organization (YSOP) headquarters in Manhattan, an organization that sets up volunteer opportunities in cities such as New York and Washington D.C. Participants were divided into groups and traveled to four unique places of service: an urban farm, two different soup kitchens, and a food pantry.
Now the question is how a weekend of community service with unfamiliar schoolmates not only may change your life, but also be a gateway into college?
People volunteer for various reasons. Having a group of similarly minded people can allow for lasting friendships and connections to form. “You are able to get to know new people while being proactive in the community,” said Chris O’Connell, a sophomore film major who has participated in the program for the last two years. “It definitely made my transition into my first year easier, and the opportunity to provide that same experience to other freshmen was too good to pass up.”
FYSE 2016 gave incoming freshman worried and overwhelmed about making new friends the chance to overcome those fears, even before classes started, through interaction with the upperclassman participating in the program with them.
Not only did the opportunity allow for people to learn more about their classmates and their communities, but also learn about themselves. “I really just realized how much I had in my life and it made me feel as though I owed the world a favor,” said Kayla Bernie, a junior theatre design and production major.
Amanda Johnson, a freshman music education major who participated this year, recognized “how just a little bit of my time can impact someone so greatly.” Johnson was previously very active in her community and she applied this concept to her experience during FYSE. Similarly, Allie Michaelis, also a freshman music education major who participated this year, explained how “going to a soup kitchen opened my eyes to a whole new community of people.”
In addition to the four exclusive trips on Sept. 3, the next day brought its own adventures to the group. Divided into two groups, the students visited a nursing home and colored with the residents. To finish up the weekend, they ended their experience by making beds for shelter dogs.
FYSE is a program that runs every Fall semester for incoming freshman. Upper classmen who are interested should go to Campus Life and see the coordinator, Arianna Livreri, who is also in charge of all the service opportunities on campus. It is a free program that requires no out-ofals during the weekend of the program.
There is an upcoming event that is an extension of this program on Nov. 13. The event, coordinated by Livreri, will be a trip to The Virdone House, one of the nursing homes for mentally disabled adults. Students will be coloring and socializing with the residents. Contact Arianna Livreri in Campus Life to check for availability.
The Office of Campus Life did not respond to the Pioneer’s requests for comment about the school’s community service programs.