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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Tufts teams up with Medford/Somerville for Community Day

Annual tradition showcases aspects of the Tufts community and neighboring communities.

Jumbo is pictured with community members on the academic quad at Tufts Community day on Oct. 1.

Jumbo is pictured with community members on the academic quad at Tufts Community day on Oct. 1.

Tufts held its annual Community Day event on Oct. 1 at the Academic Quad. Neighboring community members from Medford and Somerville were invited to campus to attend family-friendly activities and performances organized by Tufts students, faculty and staff.

Rocco DiRico, executive director of government and community relations at Tufts, explained the importance of integrating with the local community.

“It’s a great opportunity for our neighbors to learn about events, programs and lectures that are free and open to the public throughout the year. And, for our students, faculty and staff, I think it’s a great chance to interact with some amazing local nonprofits,” DiRico said. “It’s a great symbiotic relationship that unfolds that day.”

This Community Day was centered around arts, music and STEM projects. There were a variety of resource tables and art tents organized by Tufts and the local community with a focus on those three aspects.

“In addition to some local groups, like the Somerville Mathematics Fund that will be there, [we had] the Tufts Pollinator Initiative … the Society of Women Engineers, Tufts Robotics Club, Engineers Without Borders, … the Tufts electric racing car, which again, the kids love seeing,” DiRico said.

President Sunil Kumar was one of the attendees of the event and was seen interacting with Medford/Somerville residents ahead of his inauguration.

Community Day has been an annual Tufts tradition for over a decade. The genesis of the event was when Lawrence Bacow, president of Tufts from 200111, hosted a barbeque event on campus.

“That 150-person event has now grown to an event which attracts 3,000 neighbors, and this year [we had] a record [of] 70 resource tables, 50 student volunteers, 12 performances from Tufts’ students, two art tents, Jumbo lawn games and Touch-a-Truck sections,” DiRico said.

Being the first in his family to go to college, DiRico shares why this event is important to him on a personal level.

“I never stepped foot on a college campus until I started going for tours my senior year in high school,” DiRico said. “So … I just love to see local children at Tufts Community Day, because it gives them the opportunity to come onto a college campus, start thinking about higher education, meet our amazing students and learn.”

The Medford Board of Health, Somerville Media Center, Partners for Youth with Disabilities, Medford Historical Society and the Medford Family Network were some of the participating organizations from the surrounding community.

The Somerville Road Runners, one of the nonprofit organizations participating in Community Day, spoke about their mission to promote running as a healthy activity.

“We’re very involved in the community … and give a lot of money to the Somerville Homeless Coalition as well as other local organizations. We’ve been coming to Tufts Community Day for a few years now to spread awareness,” Doug Lipinski said, on behalf of Somerville Road Runners.

Tufts’ student groups performed at the event, including the Jackson Jills, the Beezlebubs, Torn Ticket II and Tufts Tamasha, Tufts’ Bollywood fusion dance group. There were also interactive art tents set up at Community Day run by student volunteers.

Kaylee Feeney, a first-year student volunteer, spoke about her experience at Community Day. “Tufts is not just Tufts, it’s also the entire Medford community. And I think that by inviting people onto the campus, they’re really keeping that relationship alive.”

To DiRicco, Tufts is naturally integrated with its host communities of Medford/Somerville.

“Civic engagement is in our DNA at Tufts University,” DiRico said.