The Community Engagement Expo hosted community agencies offering volunteer opportunities to students on campus. The event which was held in the white event tent on Feb. 4 and 5, was sponsored and organized by the Center for Community & Civic Engagement at MCC. According to Dawn Rhodes, coordinator of the expo, 35 agencies participated in the event. “The goal is to provide an opportunity for those students who need to complete service-learning a chance to find an agency to serve at,” said Rhodes. “Also, it provides a venue for individuals to come learn about resources in the community.”
“It’s one of my favorite events because it’s a chance for students to really get connected,” said Duane Oakes, Faculty Director for the Center for Community & Civic Engagement. Every semester students choose a community agency at the event to complete their assigned service learning projects, or to volunteer on their own accord. “It’s an awesome opportunity to inspire students, faculty, and the community to address issues together,” Oakes said.
International Language Programs (ILP), which offers volunteer opportunities for students to teach English abroad, was one agency present at the expo. According to Cassie Patrick, volunteer for ILP and former MCC student, the organization has schools all over the world including, China, Lithuania, Russia, and Mexico.
The application fee of over $2,500, covers flight, visa, food, and living costs. Patrick said many students had already signed up on the first day of the expo, around 30, after hearing the low application fee. Patrick said students will teach children English for three hours a day. “After that you get to do whatever you want,” Patrick said. “You can walk the streets and eat at the food carts, ride an elephant, or visit the Great Wall of China.”
Patrick herself will be leaving for China on Feb. 23 to volunteer for four months. She said she looks forward to learning how students live abroad. “I know I’m going to be pretty much sleeping on a thin piece of foam, it’s not my luxurious queen size bed with my nice comforter and luscious pillows,” Patrick said. “I think it’s just an eye opening experience, I mean you just don’t even realize how students live abroad.”
According to Oakes, one mission of the Center for Community & Civic Engagement is to help not only the local community, but the global community as well. “One of our student learning outcomes is to prepare students to understand their cultural and global engagements,” Oakes said. “She’ll come back to Arizona as a better prepared citizen, understanding real world issues, and will have a better opportunity to make a difference,” Oakes said in regards to Patrick’s volunteering abroad.
Patrick Barrett, MCC sports nutrition major, was at the expo with four other group members of his COMM 100 class. As part of a group, Barrett explained that they had to choose one agency for a service learning project as part of their class. “We have to put a presentation together to inform people of whatever we are doing,” Barrett said. The group was still undecided on which agency they were going to choose at the time of the interview, but were leaning toward A New Leaf, which provide domestic violence shelters and services to those in need.
Barrett said he thought the project would benefit the group’s interaction and communication skills. “I think it will help us to communicate with people and to work as a group,” Barrett said. For more information on service-learning opportunities call the Center for Community & Civic Engagement at 480-461-7393.