September 03, 2009
As part of orientation into the Rollins Community, new students spent time on August 20 working with over 21 local community partners on service-learning projects. The day’s events, known as SPARC, furthered the development of Service, Philanthropy, and Activism at Rollins College.
The Office of Community Engagement implemented the program in 2006 and maintains that this service-learning component is key to “Igniting Lives of Service” in incoming freshman that will last their years at Rollins and beyond. Service-learning includes any method of teaching, learning, and reflecting that combines academic classroom curriculum with meaningful and reciprocal engagement by faculty, students, and the local community.
“During orientation, our goal is to ignite an initial passion in our incoming class – to show them that there’s so much more even beyond Rollins in our Central Florida community,” said Meredith Hein, assistant director for the Office of Community Engagement.
This year, Rollins’ community partners included: Give Kids the World, the Beta Center, A Gift for Teaching, the Apopka Farmworkers’ Association, The Center: GLBCC, Second Harvest Food Bank, the Maitland Arts Center, Camp Ithiel, the Jewish Community Center, the Boys and Girls Club of Downtown Orlando, Fern Creek Elementary, and Keep Winter Park Beautiful. Freshman RCC Classes were assigned to individual projects for the day, which ranged from the sorting of canned good and school supply donations to the outdoor restoration of buildings and natural areas.
Senny Lu, a sophomore peer mentor for the 2-D Foundations RCC class, was excited about the way her mentees reacted to the day of service they spent at the Genius Reserve. “In the discussion time we had afterwards, I could tell that the students were really affected by their experience,” she said. “They were exhausted because it was a long day, but it was just so exciting to see that each of them understood why what they did was important to the community.”
In addition to SPARC, the Office of Community Engagement pioneered its first “Welcome Back Week of Service” during the first week of classes. The week’s projects included working with the Salvation Army, bingo at the DePugh Nursing Center, and a Five-Minute Difference activity outside the Cornell Campus Center.
The most telling sign of the week’s success was the more than 40 students who voluntarily woke up at 6:30 a.m. on the first Saturday of the semester to serve breakfast at the Saturday Sharing with the Homeless free meal program downtown. Already the class of 2013 has proven to be a group eager to lead lives of service both on and off the Rollins campus.