As the coordinator for the Community Service partners of the First Look Fair on campus, I was tasked with getting all of the organizations in the community that would be interested to come and table. While most of the process was fairly systematic, sending e-mails, updating registration forms, and placing organizations, I learned a few interesting things through this process: how the community interacts with the university, the energy amongst students, and some hidden needs of the community.
This entire process, I was in frequent contact with community agencies by telephone or e-mail. I realized that they were taking so much time out of their schedule just to come to the fair, and yet if they didn’t come to the fair, they would be sacrificing possibly a hundred volunteers throughout the year. Some organizations told me that without the First Look Fair at UMD, they would not be able to manage their workload throughout the year!
That brings me to my other point that there so much student energy at this fair. At the Leadership & Community Service-Learning table we collected almost 800 names and e-mail addresses of students who were interested in service of some sort! What do we actually do with those 800 names? I wonder how we can harness that energy. One organization said that they already have interns signed up for the year, and the first look fair ended just over 3 hours ago.
I don’t think there is a best way to harness this energy and get students to become involved with the community, but I believe it addresses the need to get the community and students to meet each other more often. I wonder how successful a service fair would be or what it might look like. How do we balance students not wanting to leave campus and the burden of non-profits taking time off and coming to campus? Questions like these remain to be answered