It Takes a Village: Engaging International Students in Community Volunteering
The connection between community and campus for many U.S. colleges and universities can be traced to their inception, when many were established to engage and prepare community members to work and maintain democracy. As campuses grew over time in size, mission, and student population, so has the complexity of their relationships to their communities, expanding from local to include global.
A component of the campus-community relationship is student volunteering and service projects within the surrounding community, and these volunteer opportunities should be accessible to all students who are interested, including international students. Whether students are serving meals at a soup kitchen, building houses with Habitat for Humanity, organizing a clothing drive, or caring for dogs at an animal shelter, this connection provides a multitude of benefits for everyone involved.
Concepts taught in the classroom are brought to life in the real world, and volunteer experiences provide space for mentorship and growth.
Students can engage in their community, providing avenues to deepen their commitment to their values, develop and apply new skills, network with professionals, gain experience, and learn how to be a community member. Concepts taught in the classroom are brought to life in the real world, and volunteer experiences provide space for mentorship and growth. Volunteer organizations, and the community itself, benefit from donated labor, new friendships, and the influx of energy and diversity that international students provide.
Two institutions—one a large, public university and the other a small, private Catholic college—are examples of how any school can foster international