Amidst a climate fraught with xenophobia and hateful rhetoric, the “City of Brotherly Love” continues in many ways to endorse the American values of diversity, acceptance, and hope. Foreign-born residents make up roughly 15% of Philadelphia’s population, and this site offers the chance to delve into immigration issues through work with individuals from all across the world. Organizations such as the Nationalities Service Center, SEAMAAC, Bethany Christian Services, and HIAS Pennsylvania provide social, legal, and education services to immigrants or refugees, and participants will have the opportunity to support them by teaching ESL classes to adults, doing upkeep work, tending gardens, and engaging in dialogue with staff members. At the end of the week, participants will observe a naturalization ceremony and help new citizens register to vote through the Philadelphia Immigration and Citizenship Coalition. Participants must have some understanding of the Spanish language.
Site Leaders: Katlyn Richardson and Mae Wimbiscus
Site Cost: $275 before fee waiver
Catawba Native Americans have lived alongside the banks of the Catawba River for at least 6000 years. Colonial pressures forced their numbers to dwindle and threatened the unity of the Nation during the 18th century, but tribal members persevered, and today the reservation stands on the Nation’s ancestral lands near the current South Carolina city of Rock Hill. The Catawba Cultural Preservation Project aims to preserve and promote the rich culture and heritage of the Catawba Indian Nation, and participants will have the opportunity to engage in a wide variety of service during a week spent with the Cultural Center. In terms of physical labor, they’ll beautify the historic Yehasuri Trail, plant indigenous fruit and nut trees, prepare a garden for the planting season, and do building maintenance. They’ll also engage in relationship-based service, spending time with the elderly at the Catawba Senior Center and teaching tribal youth a gardening lesson in their after-school program. Throughout the week, time will be dedicated to educating participants on the history of the Nation and the ecology of its ancestral lands through various activities including a special visit from Chief William Harris, the tribe’s elected chief. Participants will emerge from the week better able to understand the pride members of the Catawba Nation take in their identity as well as the importance of protecting a cultural heritage.
Site Leaders: Dane Hixon and Shira Hao
Site Cost: $245 before fee waiver
Years after the tragedies of the Holocaust, many survivors rely on community centers for resources, financial assistance, and support. Since 1999, Holocaust Community Services (HCS) has helped ensure that the Chicago Holocaust survivor community and their families can continue to live independently and with dignity. Through Holocaust Community Services, participants will work directly with survivors to help share their stories through art therapy, culminating in the creation of an art exhibit for Friday night Shabbat. Participants will also gain a deeper understanding of the Holocaust by touring the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center and will volunteer with Ma’ot Chitim to package Passover food donations for elderly Jews in need. Since the vast majority of survivors who receive support from HCS have immigrated from the former Soviet Union, this site will explore the role of creative work as a unique method to overcome language barriers.
Site Leaders: Ben Welsh and Kat Massengale
Site Cost: $250 before fee waiver
Sexual orientation and gender identity are incredibly important aspects of a young person’s identity, and unfortunately, many LGBTQ+ youth continue to face challenges because of how society responds to their identity. The Lambert House is a community resource center dedicated to providing support and empowerment for LGBTQ+ youth in the Seattle and Tacoma areas through counseling, peer groups, medical and legal services, and financial assistance. Participants will also work with Pierce County AIDS Foundation (PCAF), an organization that provides extensive resources to those who have HIV/AIDS as well as spearheads community outreach initiatives in and for the Seattle-Tacoma area. Participants will volunteer with both of these organizations to learn about the issues affecting the LGBTQ community and how to be a long-term ally.
Site Leaders: Kelly Edwards and Troy Jiang
Site Cost: $470 before fee waiver
Combining two highly under-served populations in our country, Native Americans and the elderly, Cherokee Elder Care goes about its work with a unique mission: to keep each person it serves in their home for the last years of their life. Participants on this site will have the opportunity to jump into Cherokee history at the local cultural center, to gain an understanding of the context in which Cherokee Elder Care operates, and to deepen their understanding of the modern Cherokee experience. They will also participate in home visits, assist individual members of the elderly Cherokee community, and hold activities for the community that Cherokee Elder Care serves.
Site Leaders: Alex Luckerman and Camron Shirkhoadie
Site Cost: $245 before fee waiver
“Chicago”: stories of its gang violence and social upheaval seem constantly to be on the tip of newscasters’ tongues. What the news doesn’t show, however, is that behind each statistic and story are real people, real families, and a community that is struggling to overcome crippling cycles of poverty and inequality. This site will work with several different organizations that aim to break these cycles by educating and empowering members of some of the city’s most at-risk populations. Participants will work with adult ESL classes at the grassroots organization Universidad Popular, and will assist area food pantries such as Greater Chicago Food Depository and the St. Pius Soup Kitchen in their efforts to provide residents facing food instability with nutritious, affordable meals. Participants will immerse themselves in La Villita (Little Village), Chicago’s unique Hispanic community, and will grow to better understand problems of violence and poverty through personal relationships and discussions with those whom these issues directly affect. Participants must have some understanding of the Spanish language.
Site Leaders: Logan Prock and Nick Ruppe
Site Cost: $250 before fee waiver
From 2014 to 2015, there has been a 67% increase in hate crimes against Muslims in the United States, which is the largest increase among all groups. As hate and Islamophobia divide the nation, it is increasingly important for allies to join the effort to create more welcoming and inclusive communities. Muslimaat-al-Nisaa leads the effort to support underserved populations experiencing homelessness and domestic violence by providing housing, training and development of job skills, free medical care, and other support services. While Muslimaat-al-Nisaa supports all minorities experiencing homelessness and domestic violence, it has a special focus on supporting Muslim women and children. Participants on this site will also volunteer with the Baltimore City Community College Youth Refugee Project. The BCCC Youth Refugee Project provides mentoring and tutoring services for 300 students who are newly-arrived refugees from over 17 countries. Many of the students in the program are Muslim and come from countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Sudan. Participants will interact directly with the students through BCCC Youth Refugee Project’s after school program. Finally, they’ll volunteer with Asylee Women Enterprise, an organization which provides provides transitional housing, companionship and community to female refugees. Participants will do facilities work at AWE as well as coordinate with the women to throw an International Women’s Day celebration at the end of the week. Participants will leave this week with a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by Muslims and refugees in the United States today.
Site Leaders: Anica Mohammadkhah and Cami Bissen
Site Cost: $255 before fee waiver