This semester, consider giving your Concordia education a practical application through sustained service in the Fargo-Moorhead community. There are many organizations and entities in the area that could use the help of college students like us. You may already have a lot on your plate, but volunteering a couple hours a week for the betterment of the community is a worthy addition to your load. Not only can you help others living in the area, but you can learn a lot as a person and gain experience for a future career.
Through Campus Service Commission, there are plenty of local service opportunities available to you. Rainbow Bridge is a program that facilitates supervised visits for parents who have partial custody of their children. You can become an ARC buddy, a friend to a person with developmental disabilities. You can tutor in an English Language Learners classroom through the New American Services department of Lutheran Social Services. Through that same program you can be matched up with a new immigrant family and help them get acclimated and adjusted to life in the Fargo-Moorhead area.
These are just some of the many and varied service opportunities already set up for you by our college’s Campus Service Commission. Check out the CSC website; if none of the opportunities there match your interests, seek out your own opportunities.
While one-time service experiences are great and certainly beneficial to our community, I encourage you – for at least a few months at some point in your college career – to try doing sustained service with the same organization. Doing so betters both you and the organization through which you are serving. You will have a more fulfilling service experience as you make connections with people in the community you are serving. You will gain valuable career experience as you gain a better understanding of how the organization you are working with functions and, depending on where you serve, you might even be able to take on more responsibility as a volunteer the longer you stay with that organization.
From the standpoint of the organization you are serving with, you become more valuable as a volunteer the longer you spend at the same place because you become more and more knowledgeable about the organization and the population it serves. If you are involved with direct service, the people you work with will feel more comfortable with you if they see you every week for a prolonged period of time.
If it seems like your class – and work – loads prevent you from being able to add another commitment, I encourage you to reconsider. One helpful resource for finding opportunities that match your interests is FirstLink’s volunteer center. Visit their website (www.myfirstlink.org) or give them a call (at 211 or 701-293-6462) and they can help you find volunteer opportunities that are right for you.
If you find the right experience, your service can be valuable to you on personal, professional and relational levels.
Ayah Kamel is a senior Political Science and Global Studies major from Fargo. She has been verbally spouting opinions since she could talk and is happy to be able to write them down as a member of The Concordian’s opinion staff. Although Ayah does not yet know what the future holds for her, she has latent dreams of becoming the next Nicholas Kristof.