My time as a STRIVE member and Community Assistant changed my belief in a common misconception many people have about community service: those that receive the service benefit more than those who serve. I now know both parties have equal benefits.
The Serving Together Reaching Integrity, Values & Engagement Community (STRIVE) is a living and learning community coordinated by the Butler Center for Service and Leadership and Pearson Residential College. Participants in the STRIVE program are committed to civic engagement, volunteer service and leadership endeavors. Residents participating in this highly selective community commit to a lifestyle of a number of service and leadership hours each week, a mentoring relationship, for-credit academic classes and a number of shared experiences and campus programs.
My perception of community service first shifted during a STRIVE day of service hosted by Students Working for Equal Rights (SWER) at a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) clinic. STRIVE members consulted undocumented immigrants about the paperwork they needed to include in their differed action application.
Through conversations with applicants and SWER volunteers, I gained a basic understanding of the complexity of the current immigration climate in the United States.
In just one morning, I explored a social issue I previously never imagined pursuing.
Since that morning, my curiosity for immigration issues has been impossible to contain. This semester, I enrolled in an immigration policy class and am the associate producer of “Not Even a Number” – a documentary about the impact of DACA in South Florida.
Volunteering these few hours with SWER has changed my life. The SWER volunteers I have become friends with have served as invaluable resources for my immigration class and “Not Even a Number” project.
Had it not been for STRIVE, I wouldn’t have recognized that community service has just as many benefits to those serving as it does to those who receive the benefits of the direct service. And I would have never found my passion for immigration issues in America.
To sign up for STRIVE, complete the application on UM’s Special Interest Housing page. Applications for the 2013-2014 school year are due Friday, March 8, 2013.
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STRIVE Community Assistant