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Student Life

School Begins with 18th Annual 'Freshman Service Experience'

By Maggie Barrett

Before they begin classes, approximately 600 American University students will contribute more than 13,000 hours of community service by preparing meals, cleaning parks, and working with children and senior citizens at more than 50 sites across the Washington, D.C. area as part of the university’s 18th annual Freshman Service Experience.

The program begins Tuesday, Aug. 19 and continues through Thursday, Aug. 21. Some of the sites where students will volunteer include:

D.C. Vote: Students will learn about D.C. Vote’s mission to educate and advocate for D.C. to receive full voting representation in Congress. Later, students will head to Capitol Hill to encourage legislators not to get involved in writing the D.C. gun regulations.

A Wider Circle: Students will assist in picking up furniture donations for families in need.  The students will then help underprivileged families pick out furniture items for their homes.

Central American Resource Center/CARECEN: Students will hit the streets of Columbia Heights to register residents to vote.  Student volunteers will also help paint classrooms in the CARECEN office and help the office staff prepare for fall.

Chavez Charter Prep School: Student volunteers will help set up and decorate classrooms, clean the school, and assist teachers in organizing classroom materials as the school prepares to open at its new location.

The program’s 2008 theme, “Exploring DiverCity: Growing Through Service,” aims to open new students’ eyes to cultural, ethnic, racial, socioeconomic, political, and religious differences both within the city and among their classmates. The work sites reflect the diversity theme. 

The Freshman Service Experience brings together incoming students with junior and senior student mentors to encourage a strong foundation of volunteerism. The program quickly immerses students into the AU and Washington, D.C., communities while helping them make friends before classes begin. The program is in its 18th year, having started in 1990 with only 30 students.