Assign students to visit or volunteer at nonprofit organizations

Thasin Kamal, Columnist

College is a place where students are supposed to grow and learn more. Volunteering and visiting a nonprofit organization allows students to witness advocacy and action firsthand. It can give students a new perspective and make them more open-minded. Yet, some students may go through their college years without ever volunteering or visiting a nonprofit organization, leading them to miss out on building their character and giving back to their communities.

All students at UT are required to fulfill core and flag requirements, including courses in social sciences and the humanities. Professors who teach these courses should assign their students to visit or volunteer at an organization, such as a nonprofit, at least once during the semester. 

Business freshman Eumin Lee expressed why she thought it was good for students to volunteer at a nonprofit organization or other similar places.  

“It offers perspective. You’re helping others. You get to gain from the experience and learn about that issue,” Lee said.

When students visit an organization, they get to interact with the people there, hear their stories, witness what they are going through and learn more about an issue. It can shape students into becoming more compassionate people. 

Volunteering or visiting a humanitarian-based organization can lead students to discover a strong passion for a certain cause, which can help shape their decisions in the future. For instance, if someone is interested in pursuing a career in business and is very passionate about a certain cause, they may decide to become a social entrepreneur. Students may decide to combine their passion for certain causes with other things they care about to do something good for the world. 

Rosalie Ambrosino, an adjunct assistant professor in the Steve Hicks School of Social Work, expressed her belief that civic engagement is a duty. 

“UT has a responsibility to give back to the community,” Ambrosino said. “Everybody has a responsibility for civic engagement. It’s not just getting from your community, but it’s giving back.” 

Ambrosino said students expressed that they felt they were living in a bubble and had no idea that certain things were happening prior to their volunteering experiences. 

Visiting or volunteering at a place such as a nonprofit organization can increase knowledge of what is happening and strike a chord with students. It can move them to do more. Not only would this proposed assignment support a cause, but it could also lead students to become better versions of themselves. 

Reading about a certain issue, listening to others speak about it and watching videos on it can increase knowledge, but volunteerism can further benefit everyone involved. 

Professors can give their students this assignment at the beginning of the semester and get them to submit information regarding where they would like to volunteer or visit. Students would set up their visits with the organization of their choice, and professors can help if needed. After their visiting or volunteering experience, students can fill something out explaining their overall experience and what they gained from it. After everyone has visited or volunteered at a place, students can discuss their experiences in class and both share and learn from one another. 

Witnessing something firsthand is a greater educational experience than just learning in a classroom. It can generate more compassion and understanding in addition to creating a larger drive in students to make a difference. Professors, assign your students to visit or volunteer at a humanitarian-based organization at least once. 

Kamal is an international relations and global studies and economics sophomore from Irving, Texas.