By Clare McKinley, Staff Writer
Xavier students gathered on the Academic Mall last Sunday for the annual kick off of the X-CHANGE program, marking the start of their weekly service activities.
Sponsored by the Center for Faith and Justice, X-CHANGE is a service program where students dedicate about two hours each week to go into the community and help others.
When they return to Xavier, they put into practice the Jesuit value of reflection and discuss their experience with other members. This semester, Xavier students have the opportunity to tutor children, walk dogs at an animal shelter, serve in a soup kitchen and volunteer at a local farm.
The kickoff took place on Sept. 24 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Upon arrival, students could check in with the board members and meet their groups. After a few announcements and a group photo, X-CHANGE commenced.
Groups began with ice breaker questions in order to take the first steps towards building a community.
Sophomore biomedical sciences major Meg Calumpang is a site leader this year and says that her group made quick work of this.
“My group came really early, so we got to know each other quickly, know each other’s names, do our Xavier intros and stuff like that,” she said. “We went to our room and then from there we did another icebreaker and answered the most random questions.”
After introductions concluded, groups went into Alter Hall and learned about what it means to be in service with and for others through videos and more conversation.
Sophomore biology major Elisabeth Nelson said that one of the most memorable parts was when they watched a video featuring theology professor Dr. Marcus Mescher discussing what service means to him.
“He talked about how service is not about doing things to make yourself look better and put it on a resume. But it’s more about being with the community and kind of showing people that you’re there for them, so I really liked that,” Nelson said.
Nelson has been a participant in X-CHANGE for all three of her semesters at Xavier and joined the program because she had never participated in community service before and thought it would be fun.
This semester she is going to tutor kids at a church in the greater Cincinnati area and is most excited to build community.
“I am most looking forward to being able to make new relationships with some of the children and be able to hear about their day and talk to them,” she said. “And not even that, just being someone that the kids can count on to come see them every single week and either to do homework, or not do homework and just to hang out and talk about things going on in life.”
X-CHANGE’s mission is to encourage students to build friendships and engage with people from the local community. Calumpang said she thinks that through X-CHANGE, she finally understands what Xavier means when they talk about service rooted in justice and love.
“I think the service opportunities given by Xavier involve a lot of hands-on experience. Being able to step off campus and know what life is like outside of our little bubble and being personal and genuine with everyone creates a really strong community. I think it’s really important, especially since we’re only at Xavier for so little and we are out in the real world for much longer,” Nelson said.