Hopkins students, faculty and staff worked alongside local non-profits and community organizations on Saturday for the 10th annual President’s Day of Service (PDOS).
Over 500 Hopkins student volunteers spread out across several Baltimore neighborhoods to work on various community service projects such as planting trees, painting walls, pruning community gardens and participating in a neighborhood clean-ups.
Undergraduate students working with the Center for Social Concern (CSC) planned and organized PDOS. Nairuti Shastry, program coordinator at the CSC, said she was thrilled at the size and scope of involvement the event generated.
“PDOS had really grown and we’re working with 34 community partners this year,” she said.
She added that close to 1000 undergraduates participated in the event this year.
Originally called the “Freshman Involved Day,” PDOS was first organized by the CSC in 1997 as an orientation event to get freshmen acquainted with Baltimore. Since it was opened up to all students on the Homewood Campus, as well as several other campuses, the program has more than doubled in size.
Sophomore Nikki Li found that this year’s PDOS encouraged students to work with people in the community in order to become better citizens.
“PDOS was a great way to get a large amount of people into the community and make it very accessible to them,“ she said. “It’s not necessarily just about making yourself feel good for being there and helping, but it’s about seeing what the world is like around you. That way, you can be a better citizen, not just at Hopkins and Baltimore, but the world.”
Provost Sunil Kumar stated that he was delighted to be part of PDOS and that it is a great tradition for the University to have.
Kumar said that he hopes that PDOS will connect students to the community for more than just one day and further student interest in participating in community service.
“I am delighted to be part of President’s Day of Service. I’ve been part of it every year after I arrived to Hopkins. This is a great tradition to have. We would like to see more,” he said.
Dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences Beverly Wendland agreed with Kumar and discussed other ways in which students can interact with the Baltimore community. She spoke about HopServe 50, which is also organized by the CSC and challenges students to serve a minimum of 50 hours of non-paid civic engagement activities in Baltimore City.
“HopServe 50 is a really good approach to having people more than double down on their commitment to the service that they were engaged in during this day to carry that throughout the rest of the year,“ she said. “I could not be prouder of the students and their commitment to the City and hope that they will be able to knit together our University with the City of Baltimore.”
She mentioned that she has participated in PDOS for four years, and that she has learned a lot about different parts of the city.
She also said that she thinks PDOS is a good way for students to get to know one another.
“It’s wonderful to see the students all coming out and forming communities among themselves as well,” she said.
After traveling to different locations in the city, volunteers gathered back at the Rec Center to participate in a reflection reception. The round-table reflection seminar is a new component to PDOS this year and hopes to encourage students to consider their motivations for participating in community service, both through PDOS and through other organizations.
Senior Nicole Duran works as the recruitment, marketing and reflection intern for PDOS and helped to plan the reflection reception. She added that because so many students participate in PDOS, it has a significant impact on the Baltimore community.
“Even with one day of service, it can be really important. It might seem a little trivial when you’re doing it, but in reality, it will help these partners really achieve goals that would’ve taken them years to achieve,” Duran said.
Duran hopes that students will be inspired to do more to serve their community in the future.
After the volunteers arrived at the Rec Center, DewMore Baltimore Youth Poetry Team, the nationally ranked slam poetry group, performed. Following the performance, the volunteers participated in the reflection discussion facilitated by team leaders and ate dinner.
During this reflection, freshman Moufidatou Adedoyin stated that she enjoyed participating in PDOS.
“It was very fun, we got to clean up the whole trail and we got to work out a little bit,” she said.
In response to a question about the level of engagement she had with the community, Adedoyin stated that her engagement was more indirect.
“Nobody really saw us doing service unless they were on the trail, but it’s still good because people will have a better place to be for recreation and stuff, and even though you might not get credit for it, there’s still something great to do in the community,” she said.
Freshman Ozioma Anyanwu, who also participated in PDOS, stated that she liked the sense of community she felt in working with everyone else.
“I really think PDOS is conducive in bringing awareness to different little things throughout the community,” she said.
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The News-Letter.