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Tufts to host community service symposium, fair

Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Updated: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 09:02

The Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service will host a series of service-related events today, including a symposium led by retired General Stanley McChrystal and a community service fair.

According to Alan Solomont, the Pierre and Pamela Omidyar Dean of the Tisch College, the day of events will be focused around the announcement of a new initiative at Tufts called the 1+4 Program. He explained that the program will first be offered to students who apply next fall.

“[Tufts] 1+4 [will] allow incoming freshman to do a year of national or international service prior to beginning their formal studies,” Solomont said. “We want to make this available to students regardless of their financial situation so we’ll provide ... financial support to students that need it.”

According to a press release about the program from Director of Public Relations Kim Thurler, Tufts 1+4 will provide incoming students with a wide range of service options.

“Tufts 1+4 will offer interested students who have been accepted for undergraduate admission the option for a transformational experience of national or global service that will also include academic content and teaching of civic and leadership skills,” the press release states.

Solomont explained that the new program, symposium and service fair are representative of Tufts’ goals as a university.

“Part of the mission of Tufts University and the reason why we have the Tisch College is that Tufts as an institution is committed to education all of its students — whether they’re medical students, engineering students or arts and sciences students — to be active citizens and to prepare them for a lifetime of civic engagement,” he said. “That is part of the Tufts culture [and] that is part of the Tufts DNA.”

This commitment to national service will be a component of McChrystal’s speech, according to Solomont.

“He’s also heading up something called the Franklin Project, which is an effort to encourage young people in greater numbers to do either military or civilian national service,” Solomont said. “His message of the importance of service by young people ... is a message that we agree with and that we want to amplify.”

Solomont emphasized, however, that today’s generation of students are already more engaged than previous generations. 

“The generation of students that we’re educating today represent a generation that want to serve,” he said. “The numbers of young people that are applying to AmeriCorps, Teach For America and Peace Corps are really off the charts. There has never been a time when young people wanted to do this more than they do today.”

He explained that the community service fair will allow students to display current and ongoing projects to benefit the local and international communities.

“The purpose of having the service fair is to showcase for the world ... and for our own community, how important [community service] is for Tufts students and what good work Tufts students are doing,” Solomont said.

Director of Community Relations Barbara Rubel agreed, and explained the importance of students giving back to their local communities.

“Tufts also enjoys tax exempt status and, while the university does not pay taxes, it should be a good corporate citizen and find many ways to support our host communities,” Rubel told the daily in an email. “Encouraging students to engage with Somerville, Medford and Chinatown is just one way we can do that.”

Some of the groups participating in the fair will include Engineers Without Borders (EWB), Tufts University Refugee Assistance Program, JumpStart and the Medford Family Network, among others. 

Brooke Schuman, one of two EWB co-presidents, explained that her group’s participation in the fair will allow them to teach others about the work they do.

“We’re participating because not only is our group as a service organization trying to put our message out there, we’re also trying to find people who share the interests we have,” Schuman, a senior, said. “It’s important that the Tufts population knows the variety of ways that you can be involved in service on campus.”

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