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ISSUE 121 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 2/29/2008

Service fair offers opportunities

By Emily Koester
News Editor

Friday, February 29, 2008

Students crowded into Buntrock Commons Friday to explore summer, semester-long and post-graduate service opportunities. Now in its tenth year, the Worldwide Service Fair is still going strong, this year boasting over 20 organizations with such well-known names as Lutheran Volunteer Corps, Peace Corps, HECUA, World Teach and Habitat for Humanity.

"The organizational representatives were pleased with the conversations they had," said assistant director of civic engagement Nate Jacobi.

Organizers Jacobi and Paula Schanilec, working from a strong list of participating non-profits from past years, attempted to bring in a variety of organizations to appeal to different students. "We encouraged a lot of the groups that we know students are interested in, such as Peace Corps and Lutheran Volunteer Corps, but we also tried to get groups with a more local focus."

One such local group is Admission Possible, a growing program that operates alongside Americorps. Admission Possible aims to help low-income students in the Twin Cities by walking them through the college application process and providing assistance to those students once enrolled in a post-secondary institution.

"We also just try to get students used to the idea that they can go to college," said Admission Possible recruiter Maria Harbough.

Americorps also offers Reading Corps for students interested in working with youth at a different level. According to statistics supplied by Americorps recruitment, 20 percent of children are behind in reading by the time they are in third-grade. Reading Corps members work with children from age 3 through third-grade in an effort to start academic success early.

Habitat for Humanity, whose long affiliation with St. Olaf includes annual spring break trips around the United States, also advertised its year-long positions available to graduating seniors. Habitat offers positions all around the state of Minnesota and occasional living stipends to those who travel outside of their home city.

In keeping with St. Olaf's global emphasis were, of course, a variety of organizations focused on world-wide service. Some of these organizations, such as Peace Corps and World Teach, offered hands-on work in a foreign setting. Other organizations, such as Church World Service, offered positions to students interested in international work but who wanted to stay within the United States. Affiliated with 35 different denominations, Church World Service focuses on povery, hunger and disaster relief from an ecumenical perspective. It extends its mission to the United States in helping to settle refugees. Church World Service is perhaps best known through its largest fund-raiser, the Crop Walk.

The Worldwide Service Fair was only one of many events during this year's Civic Engagement Week. "It is important to show that service is a vital part of civic engagement," Jacobi said.

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