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ISSUE 116 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 2/28/2003

Reaching out to serve: Day promotes volunteerism

By Jane Dudzinski
News Editor


Friday, February 28, 2003

Tuesday brought together a plethora of domestic and international service organizations in the Buntrock Crossroads as a part of the third annual World Wide Service Fair.

Sponsored by the Center for Experiential Learning (CEL) and the Office for Servant Leadership (OSL) as well as the Office of International and Off-Campus Studies, the fair offered a variety of events for students interested in learning more about how to get involved in service locally, domesticall, and internationally.

According to Brad Kmoch, the director of the OSL, this year’s fair included 27 different organizations. In addition to setting up informational booths in the Crossroads where students could stop by to talk with representatives and recruiters, many of these organizations hosted mini-informational sessions in the afternoon.

The fair originally began when they realized that students who were returning from international and off-campus study programs often questioned their career paths and wanted to "give something back," said Kmoch and Andrea Becker, the CEL technology & special events Administrative Assistant.

"The idea of service and volunteer opportunities hits a chord within these students," Kmoch said. "The fair is way of connecting students to various paths of service."

Kmoch also emphasized that since its recent inception, the fair has now grown "beyond that initial niche of students, and attracts students regardless of their participation in an off-campus program."

Kmoch added that he believes that he has noticed a change in many students’ attitudes towards service involvement as they rethink their future after St. Olaf.

"Civic engagement and service are becoming increasingly an important part of students’ thinking about life, purpose and career," Kmoch said.

Among some of the traditional groups featured at the fair were the American Red Cross, Americorps, Amigos de las Americas and the Peace Corps. There was also a significant Christian-based component to many of the groups there, which included ELCA Division for Global Mission, the Mennonite Central Committee and the Franciscan Outreach Association.

Kristen Highum ’05, who represented the Amigos organization at the World Wide Service Fair, thought that the event was a great opportunity for students to really explore their service options for during college and beyond.

"I think that St. Olaf is such a service-oriented school," said Highum. "The students are compassionate and dedicated, and this is a great opportunity for them to find out what’s out there."

Another related event that took place on Tuesday was the chapel talk, also dedicated to the notion of service.

Eric Tostrud, a 1987 graduate of St. Olaf, gave a speech about his experiences as radical during his time at college.

Tostrud told the story of his good friend and roommate, Scott Kloeck-Jenson, also a 1987 graduate of St. Olaf, who was adamant political activist his entire life. After being killed in a car crash with his family in South Africa in 1999, Tostrud helped to create the Kloeck-Jenson Endowment for Peace and Justice Studies at St. Olaf to honor his friend’s unwavering dedication to service.

Tostrud encouraged students to fight against the world’s view of the United States as an economic and military giant by demonstrating leadership in the field of world service.

"We must harness our power to serve others," said Tostrud.

He also emphasized that the Gospel does not call people to serve themselves, but instead to serve Christ and others.

"We have forgotten just how radical Christ’s command to serve the world is," said Tostrud.

"We must remain faithful to the essence [of his command] and transform his broken world into his image and his will."

Kmoch noted that next year the World Wide Service Fair will be connected to the Nobel Peace Prize Forum and the Globalization and Social Responsibility Conference.





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