My family taught me that it is essential to give back to the community in which you live. Back home, my family and I used to provide an annual brunch for members of the military who risked their lives to keep us safe, volunteered to teach English, and gave to charity whenever we could. . Although I am now thousands of miles from my family, I want to continue the tradition of community service while living in Syracuse.
Being a new student this semester, I didn’t have the contacts to learn more about community service I could do in the city of Syracuse, so I turned to Google. When I searched for “off-campus community service” in the search bar on the Syracuse University website, no easy volunteer opportunities came up.
There are opportunities to help the Syracuse community within the university with groups such as SU Literary Corps, Engineering Ambassadors, and other opportunities within the Shaw Center, but the SU website does not list opportunities outside campuses that are not run by SU employees and have flexible opportunities. time commitments.
Additionally, some classes at SU require undergraduates to do community service. In PST 101, I was asked to do community service hours for a non-profit organization that wasn’t run by the university, and we were given a list of organizations the professor had done some work on. research. I volunteer weekly at the La Casita Cultural Center, which is located in the Near Westside of Syracuse and aims to bring Latino communities closer to college and central New York. After speaking with the Executive Director, Teresita Paniagua, we noticed that few students knew about La Casita due to the lack of publicity it receives within the League.
According to Paniagua, paid advertising with organizations such as The Daily Orange is “expensive and we have extremely limited resources.” Therefore, the organization must reach the campus audience in other ways, such as through campus organizations such as La Lucha, the Puerto Rican Student Association, and fraternities and sororities within the Association. of Latin American fraternal organizations.
La Casita also relies on editorial content from social media and published in Syracuse University press releases that highlight students who have contributed to the organization’s programs. “I think it would be great if more of these stories could reach our campus communities and maybe inspire others,” Paniagua said.
The main problem with these ways of promoting off-campus organizations is that they don’t reach enough students. Many students have to go out of their way to find information about La Casita and other off-campus organizations.
For La Casita, there is an exception to this rule, and it is Latino/Hispanic Heritage Month. During this month, “it feels like everyone is watching us, and we have journalists from outside and from the university interviewing us and promoting La Casita,” Paniagua said.
Paniagua said something that touched me a lot: “End heritage month y our invisible volvemos el resto del año”. (“Heritage month is ending and we become invisible to the community for the rest of the year.”) It is very sad to think that the only time there is no struggle to promote La Casita is during the heritage month, so all that progress is thrown away once the spotlight is no longer on the Latino community.
Luckily for the community, nearly 200 students joined La Casita this past school term, more than in previous years, Paniagua said. It’s definitely an improvement over the COVID-19 focused 2020s and 2021s after most things on campus went virtual.
La Casita has the advantage of being an after-school unit of SU. Community programs and activities are a major draw for students, though transportation to La Casita is an issue for many students, Paniagua said. In any case, although La Casita struggles with advertising within the SU community, it is still part of the SU community. Imagine off-campus volunteer opportunities that are unrelated to the university.
SU students receive daily emails with information about programs, alumni, internship opportunities, and work opportunities, but I’ve never seen an email mentioning a way to help the Syracuse community through an off-campus nonprofit organization. The university should also email students about ways to volunteer in the Syracuse community through nonprofit organizations, even if those organizations are unrelated to SU.
If students don’t have access to this information, they may not spend their time helping our community, not because they don’t want to, but because they don’t know about the opportunities to help. . If the university advertised off-campus organizations, students would likely volunteer and the community would get more much-needed help.
Daniela Dorado is a junior creative writing student. Her column appears every two weeks and can be reached at [email protected].
Published on March 27, 2022 at 10:28 p.m.