With the year at HGSE about to end, many student organizations have been busy organizing final meetings and events. Last week, for example, Harvard Hillel and the Jewish Student Association (JSA) that I preside over hosted a Shabbat dinner that was open to the entire HGSE community and a Holocaust Remembrance Day presentation by Clifford Chanin, the director of education and public programs at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. The Multicultural Affairs Council that I’m a member of has also been busy planning orientation events for next year’s group of students, and the Admissions Ambassadors have been welcoming newly accepted students.
One tip I have for incoming students who already know that they would like to lead a student organization is to contact someone from that organization now. I did that with the JSA last year and the president at the time introduced me to the organization, put me on the listserv so I could keep up with how the organization functions, and invited me to think about leading during my year at HGSE. That early introduction made it easy for me to jump into JSA duties in the fall. But don’t worry if you don’t know which organizations you’d like to start or join. There will be plenty of opportunities to learn more about this during orientation. The Office of Student Affairs (OSA) is really supportive of student organizations, and they will help you with every step.
Other then student organizations, OSA is a good place to start if you’re looking for somewhere to volunteer. I regularly get emails about great opportunities. I hadn’t considered volunteering when I first started here — I didn’t think there would be enough time — but the emails inspired me to find something I love. Now each week I volunteer with Friendship Circle where I get to hang out with adolescents with special needs who have few opportunities to make friends.
I wasn’t sure that I could manage this heavy load of activities along with my school work and family time, but by carefully choosing experiences that I love or would love to have, I think it’s now safe to say I managed. Phew.