tudents learn of community service opportunities at fair

Mike Wereschagin

The University Career and Community Learning Center kicked off its seventh annual Community Involvement Fair Tuesday on the Washington Avenue Bridge.
About 50 organizations, from the Abbott Northwestern Hospital to the YMCA, set up booths in the covered portion of the bridge. The goal: to educate students on and recruit students for the community service opportunities in the Twin Cities.
Laurel Hirt, the learning center’s coordinator of community involvement, said the fair presents students with options for the future that they might never have known were there.
“Students can gain a lot from out-of-classroom learning,” Hirt said. “Years down the road, most former students I talk to say the community work is what they remember, not what they studied in books.”
But not everyone came for the social enlightenment.
When asked what drew him to the gathering, psychology senior Jeffrey Osterhoot replied, “I was just walking by and I saw the sign for a free semester’s worth of books.” The sign advertised a drawing the learning center is having in order to attract students to the fair.
After entering the raffle, however, Osterhoot stopped at several booths.
“I was involved in (community work) when I went to school in Missouri,” he said. “I liked being a part of something.”
Osterhoot said he is considering getting involved in community work again before he graduates.
University senior Kristi Walter was also drawn to the fair partly because of her impending graduation.
“I’m trying to get ideas for what I can do after I graduate,” she said. “And I’m really not sure what’s out there.”
A friend of Walter’s, who graduated last year, is currently working for the YMCA. The YMCA had several booths set up at the event, giving Walter the opportunity to explore that option.
Sophomore Sara Carroll attended the fair because she wants to get back into community service.
“I was really involved back home,” the Yankton, S.D., native said. “But last year, when I got here, I mostly just sat around and partied. I would like to be involved in something again. I miss it.”
Carroll, who is considering an anthropology major, was impressed by the Cedar Cultural Center’s booth. The center is a theater group that brings in performers of diverse cultural shows from around the world.
Several hundred students participated in yesterday’s event, Hirt estimated. The second part of the fair is being held today from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the St. Paul Student Center.

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