Fall Community Engagement Programs Continue to Promote Non Sibi Spirit Despite Covid-19

Community Engagement Programs are continuing to explore new ways to bring Non Sibi spirit to local communities during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The student coordinators of Adopt a Platoon, YDO Sign Language, YDO Climate Change, Arc Pals, and YDO Grow Our World reflected on leading their programs throughout the past few weeks of the fall term.

Elizabeth Chou ’22
I run Adopt a Platoon. We write letters to soldiers once every week on Monday nights. We do it to give them some relief or some distraction from their daily lives and what’s happening at the moment… meeting with everyone and taking some time just to write with each other is really nice and healing, so it’s definitely something I look forward to. It’s just nice to know that we’re doing something that can help soldiers who are struggling… Covid-19 hasn’t really affected the program. This activity is something we could easily do over Zoom or online, so it hasn’t been too bad in terms of changes in the program, but it’s still nice to see people in person when writing these letters.

Erin Kim ’23
I coordinate YDO Sign Language, where I teach American Sign Language (A.S.L.) to local eight- to nine-year-old children from Lawrence. Being with the kids every Wednesday is definitely the highlight of my week because it’s clear that they’re all super eager to learn. Every one of them is so sweet. Just last week, what made my day was when one of the kids shared a story about how she introduced herself in A.S.L. to a cafeteria worker at her school who’s deaf. I’m so glad to see that A.S.L. is becoming a bridge of communication and connection for the kids and that they’re developing an appreciation for the beauty of the language and deaf culture. Since the very first session, they’ve done a wonderful job picking up the language really quickly, and we’ve gotten to know each other so much better these past couple of weeks.

Alice Fan ’23
[In YDO Climate Change,] we have a small group of third to fifth graders [and] we essentially teach them about climate change, environmental justice, renewable energy, and ways they can combat the climate crisis… this is its first year so it sort of started during Covid-19, but the weather has been really great to us, so we spent every single lesson so far outside, which has been fantastic so we haven’t had to worry about masks. But I do think that the program is a little smaller than what it normally should have been.

Luke Boshar ’22
I co-coordinate Arc Pals with Avi Shah ’22, Sam Elliott ’22, and Nathalie Lelogeais ’22. We meet weekly with a group of people from the local Merrimack Valley area who have mental or physical disabilities, and two [Andover] kids are partnered with a buddy. Basically, for an hour and a half every Tuesday night, you just hang out with them and do whatever they want. Some like to play with cards, some play sports. My buddy during my Lower year, Jeff, and I walked around the track together and just talked. It’s really an environment where you find a tangible excitement and joy to be there each week because the buddies love to be there because they get to do what they want to do… [Arc Pals] was going to be shut down for at least a year, like so many of the Community Engagement programs on campus, but we decided it would be better if we could stay connected, and keep the program alive by writing letters to our buddies.

Sonia Marnoto ’22
YDO Grow Our World [is a program where we] meet with a small group of elementary students from Lawrence. They come down to our new garden on campus and basically, I teach them about gardening and sustainability. We’ve been working on the garden a bit by harvesting and just spending time outdoors and creating a nice little community… We’ve been adding a lot of new in-ground beds, so I just really hope that the students will keep having an interest in agriculture and learning more about the environment. And just that our community members have an interest in learning about that with the kids, because the kids teach us a lot as well.

Editor’s Note: Elizabeth Chou ’22 is an Illustration Editor for The Phillipian. Erin Kim ’23 is an Associate News Editor for The Phillipian. Luke Boshar ’22 is a Sport Editor for The Phillipian.