Survey reveals early service experiences inspire first-year students
For a number of years, Loyola’s Center for Community Service and Justice (CCSJ) has operated a program called Student Orientation to Service—or S.O.S.—designed to introduce first-year students to the experience of service through a three-day immersion experience held just before Fall Orientation. SOS allows students to engage in direct service with people who are materially poor or homeless in downtown Baltimore, and provides an opportunity to explore the issues, concerns, and realities of the men, women, and children experiencing these challenges. This past year, CCSJ surveyed 235 S.O.S. alumni about the impact of their participation in the program. The results were startling, and provide vivid evidence of the role service can play in preparing students to live lives as men and women for, and with, others.
Said one survey respondent, “My S.O.S. experience was transformative. Never in my life up to that point was I confronted with homelessness in a human rights and justice context. My experience started me on the path of questioning and action towards social change. It also encouraged reflection, which helped to channel my feelings, relate to others, and apply my service to everyday life. I am a different person because of SOS.”