From sorting out the dumpster behind Bancroft Hall to hiding eggs for an Easter egg hunt, the Andover community participated in variety of Community Engagement projects for Non Sibi Day on Thursday, April 18. All classes and athletic commitments were canceled as faculty and students focused on their projects on and off campus.
This year’s Non Sibi Day included nearly 70 projects with 46 different organizations, requiring over nine months of planning, according to Monique Cueto-Potts, Director of Community Engagement. Juniors worked with children and families, Lowers engaged with the environment, Uppers concentrated on hunger, and Seniors focused on homelessness.
“We intentionally picked those themes when we redesigned [Non Sibi Day] seven years ago because they are closely related to the issues addressed in our weekly community engagement programs. Our hope is that students become interested in those issues and then have options for weekly volunteer opportunities to continue that work,” wrote Cueto-Potts in an email to The Phillipian.
Shawn Fulford, Instructor of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science, joined 10 students in preparing a garden for the spring. Fulford said that Non Sibi Day benefits students and the community.
“It exposes [the students] to good activities. It makes us take a break from our normal day and see something different and accomplish things…It would have taken me thirty hours to do by myself what they did in an afternoon,” said Fulford.
Posie Millett ’20 volunteered at the Greater Boston Food Bank. She found that Non-Sibi day was beneficial because she was able to see the effect on the community around her.
“In years past, I felt that I was doing a Non-Sibi project for the sake of doing community engagement and wasn’t really enriching the community at all…But this year I really felt that I was making an impact, especially because they gave us a [count] of pounds of food that we had sorted and packaged and the number of meals that would amount to.Without our group, four thousand fewer meals would have gone out to the community that day,” said Millet.
Emily Mae Murtha ’22 volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lowell. Murtha echoed Millet’s sentiments about engaging with the community.
“What I have taken away is that it really is engagement, not just service, because I had equally as much enjoyment or even more than the people I helped…I think that direct interaction with the kids, seeing how I could help them [and] seeing my own efforts was the best part of Non-Sibi day,” said Mae Murtha.
According to William Yu, Teaching Fellow in Physics, Non Sibi Day is not only rewarding for students, but for faculty as well.
“Whether you’re a student volunteering or an adult volunteering, it’s still that incredibly wholesome and rewarding experience. It’s wonderful to have some chance in such a hectic school year to take some time off [and] engage with people around us…because it’s so easy to get focused in the bubble of [Andover],” said Yu.
Cueto-Potts said that the organizations who partnered with Andover for Non Sibi Day also appreciated the day.
“We had so many community partners comment on how hard everyone worked and how determined the groups were to get their tasks done. We also hope the day inspires students to think about ways that they might be able to get involved or even more involved with community engagement,” said Cueto-Potts.
Next week, the Community Engagement Office will begin planning next year’s Non Sibi Day. There will be changes to the program next year.
Cueto-Potts said, “Next week we will start planning [Non Sibi Day] 2020, and we are going to consider some significant changes to the current model for a variety of reasons. The goal of the [day] will be the same, but how we reach that goal definitely will be different.”