First-years at Transylvania all take a class called “Foundations of Liberal Arts,” or FLA. The second semester of the class, FLA II, is centered around learning how to write a research paper, and by the end of this semester, we will all have finished, fifteen-page reports on a topic of our choice. (Mine is answering the question, “Do Nice Girls Finish Last?”) Professors from all disciplines teach FLA and make their second-semester class about any kind of subject. At the end of the semester, we will present our projects and the best will be chosen to present to the campus at a conference in the fall.
My FLA II class with Professor Martha Gehringer is called “Do-Gooders and Good-Dooers.” We examine community service from all angles and discuss the perks and drawbacks of being kind. We’ve read Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville, On Kindness by Adam Phillips and Barbara Taylor, and we’re currently discussing Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America, which is great.
As a part of our grade, everyone in our class has found a volunteer project for the semester. As someone who actually enjoyed National Honors Society meetings and volunteering all over, this requirement was an exciting opportunity! Some of my classmates are shadowing doctors at local hospitals, others are teaching classes for adults with special needs through College for Living, or tutoring at The Carnegie Center. After weeks of trying to find the right organization, my friend Beth and I volunteer at The Nest.
You can read more about The Nest on their website or Facebook. Basically, it is an organization that serves women, children, and families in the Lexington area. They provide resources for struggling families, child care services, parenting classes, and counseling. Beth and I have been helping wherever Jeffrey, the new Executive Director, needs us. We’ve reorganized his filing system, cleaned out shelves, folded baby clothes, and sorted donations.
While it seems like the little jobs we do don’t make a huge difference, everyone at The Nest is so appreciative! Making files and records more organized and accessible makes it easier for Jeffrey and other Nest workers to help needy families, which has been so rewarding. Plus, as they expand and establish themselves in the community, The Nest is open to all kinds of ideas. Though we haven’t been volunteering there for very long, we’ve been asked for our opinions on all kinds of changes, from upcoming events to paint colors for the lobby. It has been so much fun working with an organization (which is within walking distance of Transy’s campus!) that helps so many people in the community.
This is only one of the many examples of Transylvania students getting involved across Lexington. But we couldn’t do it alone. Another one of the many resources available on campus is the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement. Its coordinator, Karen Anderson, has met with our class several times to set up volunteer opportunities throughout the semester.
So whether you’re interested in volunteering once or once a week, Transy can point you in the right direction!