Before I say anything else, I’ll just get it out of the way and address the white elephant in the room–you’re welcome for the Vanilla Ice pun. Oh what’s that? You want to steal if and use it everywhere you go? You totally can, it’s completely fine with me. Don’t even worry about giving me credit for it.
I was just reflecting about another neat feature of office jobs: business lunches. I had never been to one of those before Thursday afternoon. Then Drew Stelljes, in the Office of Student Volunteer Services (OSVS from here on out), asked if any students with experience in service at the College would come talk to potential candidates for the job of assistant director…over a tasty free lunch at a Williamsburg deli. O brave new world, that hath such sandwiches in it!
I’ll admit it: initially, the most appealing part of this offer was the free lunch at a tasty Williamsburg deli. Once I was there, though, and engaged with friends and peers in a discussion of the spirit of service at W&M, and how to continue to enlarge and enliven it, I was enthused and motivated.
College, in my mind, is an inherently selfish endeavor; perhaps not “selfish” in a negative sense, but certainly self-focused. You’re here to be edified, to improve your mind, to expand your sense of what’s possible, and to gain skills to help you become legitimately employed later in life. What’s more is that, at a state school like William and Mary, you are here partially on taxpayer dollars, and often on your parents’ hard-earned savings (a reality that frequently gives me guilt spasms). I’ve seen so many friends at other schools have the time of their lives in college without giving a thought to the world outside their campus limits; they got all the community service they needed through National Honor Society or Key Club in high school, and decided to call it quits there. That works for some people.
William and Mary students, on the other hand, seem never to remove the pack of civic engagement and are always looking for ways to incorporate service into their learning experiences. I am consistently blown away by the amount of time my friends and fellow students spend doing service–how engrained it is into their lifestyles. I tutor at a local school, help with occasional projects around the Williamsburg area when volunteers are needed, and have gone on two W&M-sponsored international service trips (one to Mexico and one to Bequia), but I often feel like there is more that I could do when I look at how busy my peers stay with sustaining and creating service opportunities. The OSVS helps create programs to highlight the educational aspects of service as well, with service learning programs and forums.
Another thing I’m particularly proud of is W&M alums’ records of service once they leave this place. So many people leave this College to work for non-profits, serve in the Peace Corps, do unpaid research that benefits others, or invest themselves in countless other career fields that aren’t, well, the best-paying, but they don’t care. I’m sure it’s an issue the Development Office stresses over, because maybe the selflessness of this community is part of the reason why this school’s alumni funds always seem a little low.