Oh, do I remember when I first arrived at Fairfield … with fewer wrinkles than today and definitely more hair as well. Just kidding (I hope). I knew I wanted to get involved on and off campus, I just didn’t know what organizations to engage with. Now, after some time, I’ve found that whether you want to work with young children or volunteer your time with senior citizens, there’s almost endless options to choose from. So, I won’t list them all, but Fairfield Campus Ministry has a slew of options, from service with children, animals, and vulnerable populations and service around food insecurity. Another valuable resource is the Fairfield Public Library, which bolsters a long list of community service opportunities. Now, let me introduce you to a few community engagement opportunities I have taken advantage of throughout my time at Fairfield. 

CIRI (Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants): 

CIRI is my favorite opportunity to get engaged and be a part of a young student’s life. Fairfield students can tutor children who are new to the English language through this program, getting paired with a student enrolled in a Bridgeport school. Walking into a classroom to see a shy smile erupt on your student’s face is an unbeatable feeling and I’m certain you’ll look forward to tutoring every week. Even if teaching is not in your future, everyone can benefit from getting into a school and learning from the talented teachers and bright students who fill the classrooms. 

Apply on Life@Fairifled with the CIRI Mentoring Program – MENTOR APPLICATION. 

Caroline House:

Caroline House is a unique organization that teaches English as an additional language to immigrant women. Volunteers can assist the staff by reading, playing, and doing arts and crafts with the children and working with computers while caregivers learn English amongst other topics. Moreover, courses at Fairfield partner with this organization, offering students the ability to receive credits while learning with Caroline House (more on that below). 

Best Buddies Club: 

Additionally, many clubs at Fairfield are central to students’ involvement with community engagement on campus. For example, the Best Buddies club offers opportunities for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to engage with their peers. The pure joy and excitement these events radiate are unparalleled. Get engaged with the events their club hosts on and off campus, such as Halloween parties and karaoke nights. 

If these options seem daunting and you’re unsure if you can take the first step by yourself – or if you’re still not even sure where to start – don’t fret, as there are courses designed to get students engaged and learning from local communities. Next time you’re registering for courses, look for a class with the CEL attribute – a class that centers on a Community Engaged Learning experience. Throughout these courses, you will work with a community partner, ranging from a local school to a public library depending on the course you pick! 
And finally, one tip I can give about community engagement is that it is a reciprocal act. Service, often defined as “the action of helping or doing work for someone” is not usually a word I use to refer to any experiences I have with community partners. I prefer to use the term community engagement, as you learn from the community and are allowed to branch out and become a well-rounded person!

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-- Junior | Editor in Chief | English/Spanish and Education --

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