Even before they have their first class as Tar Heels, UNC’s first-year students are already engaging in service, getting a jump-start on the Carolina Way. Fifty first-year students spent three days working with local community partners engaging in public service as part of the Service-Learning Initiative (SLI).
SLI is a unique student-led pre-orientation program that provides incoming first-year students with an immersive introduction to the array of service opportunities in and around Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Each year, over three days the week before classes start, participants learn about and work with APPLES community partners, become more aware of local social justice issues, form lasting friendships with other engaged students and are introduced to reflection as a tool for making meaning out of service experiences.
“SLI is special to me, not only as a site leaders, but also because we are leading through service,” said SLI co-chair Jessica Jenkins ’14. “This is a wonderful way to connect to Carolina and make the campus a little smaller.”
During the three-day experience, SLI participants worked with local community organizations doing a variety of tasks including making floral table holders for the ARC of Orange County, sorting food at TABLE, gardening work at Hope Gardens, making birthday cards for A Helping Hand clients and trail maintenance at Battle Park. On the final day of SLI, all 50 participants visited Central Elementary School in Hillsborough to help teachers clean, organize and prepare classrooms for the school year.
SLI participants are also introduced to other campus and community service organizations and become connected with a network of older students who help first-years with their transition to Carolina. After SLI, many participants become involved with other components of the APPLES Service-Learning program or choose to be involved with planning and leading SLI for future classes of incoming first-year students.
Learn more about SLI.