Engaging is service is a meaningful way for students to connect with the community and start their UNC career. Just ask Dillon Rubalcava, a first-year student from Jamestown, North Carolina. “I thought doing service work would be a great way to get to know the Chapel Hill community while at the same time doing good for the community,” Rubalcava said. He and 59 other UNC first-year students participated in Service-Learning Initiative, or SLI, a unique student-led orientation to service-learning of the APPLES Service-Learning program and the Carolina Center for Public Service. Over three days the week before classes start, participants are immersed in serving the local community and introduced to the array of service opportunities in and around Chapel Hill and Carrboro.
“I wanted to participate in the Service-Learning Initiative ever since I first heard about it,” Rubalcava said. “I had already made a personal goal of mine to give back to the community as much as possible, mainly through community service. I thought SLI was the exact program I needed to dive headfirst into helping the Carolina community.”
With more than 675 hours of service over three days, SLI participants dove deep into service.
Taylor Newsome, a senior biology and global studies from Winston-Salem, North Carolina and SLI- co-chair, said “We had a record number of applications this year. There were 129 applications, which was really awesome because it shows that first-year students are interested in learning more about serving their community and making an impact during their time at Carolina.”
Through the SLI, each participant served at three community partners like Central Elementary, Carrboro High School, TABLE, the SECU Family House, Club Nova and the Carolina Campus Community Garden. They also engaged in reflections to discuss what they learned from serving, and from videos and articles presented throughout the program that relate to UNC’s pan-university theme, Food for All.
“After SLI, I plan on engaging in several different forms of service through UNC,” Rubalcava said. “Having grown up around Greensboro, North Carolina, I am extremely aware of the hunger problems plaguing many cities in America and across the globe, and will be working with organizations such as TABLE (whom I met through the SLI) to help the cause of easing hunger.”
Newsome added, “We hope that the participants form lasting friendships with each other, as well as learn about ways to get and stay involved on campus and in the community. We also hope that participants will be able to take what they have learned at SLI and use it to make a positive impact on the Carolina and Chapel Hill/Carrboro communities.”
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