The idea of “collaboration and reflection” across the Harvard campus captured the attention of Crystal M. Fleming (GSAS ’08) and Jason Rafferty (HMS ’10) for the last ten months. This idea has developed into student-led initiative of a University-Wide “Day of Service” (DOS), which aims to foster collaboration across the University in a collective effort to promote civic engagement and social awareness. The event kicked off on Saturday Sept. 29th with a breakfast with President Faust and brought together guest speakers that included directors of volunteer programs, a former mayor and city councilor, and a former state senator.
With over 700 students registering as volunteers, including 31 HBS students, the event was a success. Elizabeth Head (OD), a member of DOS committee who promoted the event at HBS, said, “I was actually very pleased with the number of HBS students who signed up for the Day of Service.” She said, considering that HBS did not have classes on Friday, September 28, and the ongoing EC job search, having 31 students committed to a full day of community service is impressive.
Head, president of HBS Volunteers Club, said while there are many ways for HBS students to get involved in community service, including the annual Charity Auctions that raise money for non-profit organizations and tutoring programs, the Day of Service has it own significance since the schools of Harvard rarely have the opportunity to truly interact with one another.
“This is the first ever activity under the banner of Harvard,” said DOS founder Fleming. “We have a tradition of being decentralized at a social level and academic level. This is potentially to start to change that culture,” she said, “This is very unprecedented and that’s why it took so long. I don’t want to think about [how many hours I spent for the event]. I am a candidate of PhD in sociology, and I hope I am still.”
Indeed, HBS students who signed up to help out with the university-wide initiative found the experience very rewarding. Christopher Laconi (NB), who volunteered with the Boston Center for Youth and Families project during the DOS, said, “I came away feeling that service isn’t a one-way street; the Day of Service wasn’t just about giving, but growing – not just about teaching but learning.”
“One of lessons I learned is that we don’t just work here and live here, but that we are very much a part of the community of Harvard, of Cambridge, and of Boston,” said Laconi. “That community extends beyond – and between – our sections, our schools, and across our university and city.”