Georgetown University, the first Catholic and Jesuit university founded in the United States, holds several values at the core of its tradition, including “the integration of learning, faith and service; care for the whole person; character and conviction; religious truth and interfaith understanding; and a commitment to building a more just world.”
As a part of the Georgetown community, the English Language Center invites students of all faiths and backgrounds to consider these values as an integral part of their study here. This semester, students in the Low Intermediate class attended a volunteer event coordinated by the AARP Foundation, working to end hunger and poverty for seniors in the United States. This event on the National Mall, called the “Meal Pack Challenge”, particularly exemplifies the value of People for Others.
“Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., Superior General of the Society of Jesus from 1965 to 1981, employed the phrase ‘Men for Others’ in a notable 1973 presentation in Valencia, Spain. Father Arrupe provocatively challenged the alumni of Jesuit schools and universities to be engaged in the struggle for justice to protect the needs of the most vulnerable. Today, this phrase has become more inclusive and its spirit is evidenced in Georgetown’s promotion of community-based learning courses; our local, national and international service projects; justice immersion programs; and over forty student-led service and justice organizations.”
Here are some comments from students in class about what they learned from their experience as volunteers!
Grace: AARP organized a lot of people to help them to pack the bags of food. We helped them for about one and a half hours and we all had different jobs. For example, my job was to weigh each bag, and Shalu’s job was to close each bag. I think AARP is a good organization because they organized us so well. First, they let us register on the computer. Then, they gave us a t-shirt. Next, they showed us different pictures to teach us what to do. After that, they played a video to introduce AARP and their programs. After watching the video, I felt inspired and I wanted to help them. When we entered the tent to pack the bags, we were ready to work hard.
Hanan: It surprised me that we prepared so many boxes in a short time. The boxes included rice with beans and spices (jambalaya).
Fadiyah: This was my first time to volunteer in the US. I was surprised about the number of people working. The environment was so exciting because there was music and people clapped when we finished our work. Everyone was working hard!
Shalu: It felt just like a party because it was so fun. It was different experience than I had in China to do something like this. We volunteer in China, but not like this style. It was very special.
Hala: I was so interested at this event because of all the people who came to help the poor. I was so happy to see that. I think people who came to volunteer have a good heart because they left their work to attend this event.
Daniel: In my opinion, I think I learned how seniors have a difficult life. I also learned how to connect with other people I didn’t know before who came together to volunteer at this event.