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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

’Deis clubs serve greater Waltham community

Published: January 28, 2011
Section: Features

The Brandeis student community is as diverse in interest as it is in composition. Students actively participate in more than 250 clubs ranging in topics from cooking to Korean culture and from environmental awareness to slam poetry. Each of these organizations caters to a different faction of the student population, allowing students to explore that which they feel most passionate about.

Two years ago a partnership between the Waltham group, student union and the Waltham community was created with the purpose of encouraging all these clubs and student organizations to embrace Brandeis’ social action mission, along with whatever else they do.

Known as Clubs in Service, this initiative helps any group of like-minded people directly to engage in the Waltham community, helping them find and participate in community service opportunities. While it took a while to take off, it is now flourishing. Currently run by a committee of nine, very devoted, student leaders, it has already worked with close to 50 clubs on campus.

Every couple of weeks, Clubs in Service helps another club successfully complete an action project. Clubs can choose to do anything as part of the initiative and are provided not only with the venue but also with money, transportation and training whenever necessary.

Prior to engaging in the service project, club members are prepared for whatever they are about to do, especially in situations where the subject matter may not be easy. After completing a project, they are asked to reflect upon the experience, a process that makes the project not only meaningful to those helped, but also to the club members who participated. Furthermore, by working together to achieve a common goal, participants in Clubs in Service can bond as a group. “It is a win-win situation,” Lucas Malo, director of the Department of Community service, said.

Some projects are one time occasions; for example, they organized a Pokemon-themed Halloween party put on by the Anime club at the local YMCA, while others have materialized into even bigger entities. Spectrum, Brandeis’ autism awareness club, now works on a regular basis with Waltham’s autistic population and members from the ICC work consistently with residents in the Greater Waltham area.

Ultimately, Clubs in Service hopes to turn general interest clubs into service clubs by helping them create long-term projects and connections with the Waltham community.

“There are so many clubs and so much passion … but we live in a Brandeis bubble. We need to see the rest of the world,” Lara Solinsky, committee coordinator, said.