During their first weekend at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, the newly arrived Classes of 2022 spread throughout the Finger Lakes Region for the 19th annual Orientation Day of Service. More than 700 students volunteered to support initiatives for food justice and literacy, community-pride and environmental conservation while creating lasting relationships with the community members who will be their neighbors for the next four years.
“The history of the HWS community and the City of Geneva has been intertwined for nearly 200 years,” Interim President Patrick A. McGuire L.H.D. ’12 told the Classes of 2022. “Today, you will reaffirm the values that attracted you to this community and those that will endure throughout your time at the Colleges. Stay engaged, make a difference. It’s part of who we are at HWS.”
[On Monday, Washington Monthly’s College Guide and Rankings for the second year in a row named HWS the No. 1 liberal arts institution for service.]
Director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL) Katie Flowers also gave remarks before students departed for 29 participating sites, including non-profit agencies, churches and landmarks where people are welcomed to participate in wellness and enrichment programs or arts and cultural events and where resources provide support to the most vulnerable members of the population.
While packaging food for Rise Against Hunger in the Bristol Field House, Maya Striuli ’22 from Barrington, R.I., reflected on how HWS’ commitment to service influenced her decision to apply to HWS. “When you have the ability to help out, it is important to give back to the community. I taught citizenship classes for adults for nearly a year, so when I visited campus and found out about service opportunities, it said a lot about the school and the students here.”
On Exchange Street in Geneva, students partnered with the local NAACP chapter to distribute school supplies to students in the Geneva City School District, including backpacks, binders, rulers and other items needed to prepare them for academic success. Event organizer and Geneva’s NAACP President Lucille Mallard L.H.D. ’15 welcomed the new HWS students to the community and invited them to learn from the experience.
“The Backpack Program invites people of every cultural background to come here and get supplies, without being asked for ID or questioned,” Mallard said. “We do this every year, and I’ve had an alum of HWS call me and say that the Backpack Program made a lasting impact on her life. We’ve created a program where a rainbow of people feel welcome.”
Throughout the city, students gardened and restored areas around Seneca Lake and the neighborhood parks; repaired and beautified resources at St. Francis- St. Stephen Elementary School, the Challenger Baseball Field and Geneva’s Food Justice site; as well as traveled to locations in Seneca and Wayne County to collect native seeds, bond with the elderly community and clear wetlands and hiking trails.
At the YMCA, where students cleaned toys and prepared the play room for the fall, Ayesha Lee ’22, of Rochester, N.Y., said the dual emphasis on global citizenship and service attracted her to HWS. “I find it really interesting how the academic and extracurricular programs available here emphasize learning new concepts and ideas and applying them at the local level,” she said.
The largest Day of Service site brought more than 150 students to the Bristol Field House to work with the international relief organization Rise Against Hunger. Students packaged more than 30,000 meals that will be distributed to schools and communities around the world in need of nutritious food.
Zhenyu Lin ’22, an international student from Shanghai, China where he volunteered at local hospitals, said he was happy to have the opportunity to bond with his peers over “meaningful work.” “I do service to help others and I am very passionate about giving back,” Lin said.
For more coverage on the Classes of 2022’s first weekend on campus, visit the Orientation 2018 page.