“The best way to get to know your community is to serve it.”
What program or project did you participate in?
I've been involved with the Freshman Urban Program for two years now — first as a FUPper, and most recently, as a program counselor.
How would you briefly describe your service project?
The Freshman Urban Program is an introduction to community service and social justice in the greater Boston area. Over one action-packed week, FUPpers are exposed to four locally relevant social justice themes through service placements at community organizations and group reflection activities designed by the counselors.
What did it mean to you to be able to do this?
Being a FUP counselor is both an adventure and a privilege. As much as I have learned about the greater Boston area, social justice, and the significance of community service involvement these past two years, I have learned even more from my students and co-counselors. I love starting my school year with FUP because everything we do reminds me of the importance of community—a value even more fundamental than the social issues we explore throughout the week.
I wanted to do public service work because I believe the best way to get to know your community is to serve it. This experience has taught me that understanding the social issues a community faces can make hands-on service so much more meaningful.
What do you think it meant for the community in which you served?
Everyone has their own reasons for getting involved with community service, but one thing that has struck me about service at MIT is that the students who choose to get involved tend to do it for the right reasons. There are so many ways to occupy your time at MIT—especially during the pre-orientation period for freshmen—that students who elect to join a program like FUP are the ones who take a genuine interest in social issues. Our community partners have repeatedly communicated to us that this is evident in the thoughtfulness and enthusiasm FUPpers bring to the organizations they visit during FUP week. Our students often continue to stay immersed in service even after FUP ends, which is perhaps the most meaningful testament to the scope of impact the program has.