Boston College is nationally recognized for its service and volunteer work, and programs such as Appalachia, 4Boston, and Arrupe draw hundreds of student applications each year.
Students’ experiences at various placements and service trips are an invaluable asset to the BC community when effectively shared.
In a welcome change this year, students from different volunteer groups are organizing and hosting F.A.S.T. Week to bring the volunteer experiences to the undergraduate population at large. F.A.S.T. Week—which stands for Faith, Action, Solidarity, Today—is a seven day stretch of 10 events that feature the reflections of students and alumni on different current events such as immigration, gang violence, and homophobia.
F.A.S.T. Week is an attempt to help students returning from placements and service trips answer the question of how they are able to authentically incorporate their service experiences into their everyday lives.
Students who visited economically challenged areas of Appalachia or developing countries like Peru and Guatemala should be commended for their service—they collect experiences critical to a BC education. If the lessons learned on these trips don’t get practiced in daily life, however, the students have missed out on an important aspect of the service.
In weekly reflections, students who participate in volunteer service are challenged to take what they learned in their placements or service trips and share that with the rest of the University, and F.A.S.T. Week is an important effort in that outreach.
Unless students are already heavily interested in social issues relating to service trips, they are unlikely to go to events or lectures addressing issues that might not appear to have a direct effect at BC or in the greater Boston area. Events can draw a much broader crowd if these lectures connect these experiences elsewhere to the local community.
A strong beginning to F.A.S.T. Week is the lecture on gang violence in Los Angeles by Rev. Greg Boyle, S.J. A member of the Boston Police Department will also be at the lecture and will speak about the issue on a local level, linking many of the broader themes of the week. The combination of both an outside speaker and a local representative will allow the event to attract a wider audience and bring in several unique voices to speak on the issue.
F.A.S.T. Week is an important initiative on the part of the service and immersion groups, helping to bridge the gap between placement experiences and the everyday at BC.
Featured Image by Corinne Duffy / Heights Staff