Civic Engagement Opportunities at Drexel University Through CIVIC 101
January 22, 2021
One of my favorite experiences I've had while studying at Drexel University is the class CIVIC 101. Most students know the joke about "101 classes" being the easiest classes any university will offer, but CIVIC 101 is something very special. It's a required course that every first-year student must take and is meant to teach students about engagement in their communities and the benefit of becoming involved. I'll admit that when I took this course I audibly groaned when I saw it on my schedule, and so did many of my peers, but once we signed up for a service opportunity that we were interested in, a lot of my friends and I really enjoyed our time in the class. Some of the opportunities my friends signed up for included working with children in after-school programs, working at a local animal shelter, and even doing seasonal work in cleaning up the city.
Getting to make a positive impact while engaging with others was an eye-opening experience because, up until this class, I hadn’t really done much in the way of community service.
My opportunity, however, was with the Philly Aids Thrift Store, located on 5th Street in Queen Village. The thrift store is one of the largest in the area and has two floors of shopping space, with the entire second floor being dedicated to clothing and shoes. My job as a volunteer was to sort and tag clothing for two hours at a time during three sessions over four weeks. While tagging clothing may not sound super interesting (and I can't lie, it wasn't), I actually had a really awesome time. And, I wasn't alone! I was working with many other individuals from all walks of life and had many interesting conversations learning about people's experiences and how they came to work at the thrift store. Believe it or not, there were a few businessmen who would stop by on their way home from work because they had been working at the store long before they got their jobs downtown! Getting to make a positive impact while engaging with others was an eye-opening experience because, up until this class, I hadn't really done much in the way of community service. Now, however, I was opened up to a world of possibilities.
Through the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement on Drexel's campus, I was introduced to many other service opportunities and had a chance to earn extra credit in some of my classes. Any student can find learning opportunities through the Lindy Center and they're willing to help however they can, even offering the possibility of reimbursing transportation costs. Much like my article about Ready! Set! Fail!, this class is a unique experience that I think really had an amazing effect on me in helping me learn more about my place in the ecosystem of Philadelphia, and I hope that all incoming first-year students look forward to this class. It is one of the few that will expect you to get out there and do things outside of the classroom, but I can promise you that it'll be worth it and help get you integrated into the culture of Philadelphia.
Zachary Raber is a fourth-year Entrepreneurship and Innovation student, and while he's usually got his nose stuck in a textbook with all his classes or busy working on his latest startup idea, he equally has his foot out the door exploring Philadelphia with friends enjoying life as a student.