Newest Stanford students get early introduction to service

From left, Garrett Nastarin, Olutosin Sonuyi, Jordan Sanches and Clayton Evans help pack food for the campus Stop Hunger Now event during Stanford’s New Student Orientation. (Photo: Joy Leighton)

Public service is a part of Stanford’s DNA. And so to welcome the incoming class of 2017, campus units and student organizations teamed up to help kick off New Student Orientation (NSO) week by raising awareness about the range of service learning opportunities Stanford offers.

One of those projects is Stop Hunger Now, an international relief organization that coordinates the distribution of food and other life-saving aid around the world, servicing 76 countries to date. On Saturday, Sept. 21, more than 250 student volunteers worked assembly lines in Tresidder’s Oak Room to package 43,000 meals of dehydrated, high-protein, nutritious food. Most meals packaged in Northern California are shipped to Afghanistan through Trust in Education. More than 15 Stanford student organizations and campus units co-sponsored the event.

Chase Russell, left, and Henock Dory staff the voter registration table. (Photo: Joy Leighton)

“Most of us on the organizing team feel that incoming students often associate Stanford with research and innovation,” said BRIAN NGUYEN, ’15, who helped coordinate the meal-packing event. “While these are essential to the advancement of society, we noticed a lack of awareness regarding the vibrant public service community on campus.

“With this in mind, we worked to set up a direct service event, hoping to instill an understanding not only of current issues, and hunger in particular, but also of potential avenues to explore public service at Stanford. Additionally, in the spirit of New Student Orientation week, we hoped to help freshmen build relationships beyond their residences.”

In addition to the meal-packing effort, the NSO schedule included a public service open house at the Haas Center for Public Service. The event drew 200 attendees who had a chance to find out about Haas Center programs and student service groups.  In addition, this year’s NSO information packet included material encouraging students to register to vote in California or their home states. Registration tables were set up at dining halls and on White Plaza. The Voter Registration@Stanford initiative is sponsored by the Vice Provost for Student Affairs, Residential Education and the Haas Center. In 2012, the initiative registered more than 800 students to vote. For the 2013 election, the last day to register to vote in Santa Clara County is Oct. 21.

—JOY LEIGHTON, Haas Center for Public Service