For the seventh consecutive year, Worcester State University students traveled to New York City to participate in a service project and focus on a social justice issue. This CLEWS (Community and Leadership Experience at Worcester State) field trip is supported by the Binienda Center for Civic Engagement, Residence Life, and the Office of University Advancement.
“It’s a reward trip for the students who are engaged during the year,” says Dr. Mark Wagner, the director of the Binienda Center.
This year, 32 students, including RAs, student government participants, and those who work on Binienda Center programs, such as JumpStart, went on the trip.
They spent Saturday focusing on a service project. This year’s project (for the second year in a row) centered on children at Mt. Pleasant Christian Academy. WSU students designed and taught workshops for about 70 middle-school-aged children.
“Some of the kids are living in shelters with their families, but others are well-to-do New Yorkers,” Wagner says. “We design workshops in time-management, songwriting, fun with math, poetry, and such. One of the goals of our workshops is that the middle school students bond with our college aged students and see that learning leads to college.”
“It was really cool to see that what we were doing was actually influencing them and encouraging them to continue with their education,” says Jasmin Serrano ‘19. Serrano was also impressed by the friendliness and familiarity of the children with the WSU students.
Maribel Mateo ‘20 attended the trip last year and was surprised that the children remembered her.
“I sat there saying, ‘What did I really do that could have impacted them to remember me?’” she says. “It was a cool eye-opener. A little bit can do a lot for somebody. That was what the whole experience was like. We did give a lot of ourselves to them and so did they for us.”
On Sunday, the focus turned to the social justice part of the trip, which in the past included learning about immigration, Jewish Heritage, and African American History. This year the focus was on 9/11. Students toured the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, then saw “Come From Away,” a thoughtful musical recounting the time after 9/11 when the town of Gander, Newfoundland, had an influx of stranded people due to closed air space.