By Wei Luo, MPP 2017
On Saturday September 10, students and staff joined with community partners for HKS Serves, the Kennedy School’s signature day of service. The Citizen followed a group of volunteers to the nearby Cambridge Community Center, a non-profit providing after school and summer youth programming. Valentino Robinson, the Center’s Community Affairs Director, enthusiastically greeted the dozen or so volunteers. “I can always use the extra hands,” he said, “When the kids come on Monday, they’ll be happy.”
Some of the volunteers had prior community service experience. MPP2 Raafi Alidina recounted doing extensive volunteer work when growing up. “It’s nice to get back to doing the things I grew up with,” he explained. Hallie Tosher, also an MPP2, recounted her experience with HKS Serves in 2015: “I saw the value of the day of service last time and really appreciated it.” Group leader Allison Hillegeist also appreciated the unique opportunity for staff and students from different programs to meet each other, saying that the day of service “lets me get to know you guys.”
Many volunteers came from abroad. Sonya Lu, a visiting researcher from China, and Artyom Anikyev, a first year MPA student from Russia, both enjoyed the volunteer work.”It’s nice to have new experiences and help the community,” Artyom said. Sonya agreed, noting that “it’s a very simple thing—helping others.” Shinya Kawabe, an M-RCBG fellow from Japan, was eager to see more of Cambridge through HKS Serves. “It’s fun; I enjoy it,” he said.
In the end, HKS Serves affirms the mission of HKS and its student body to make a difference through service. As Michelle Infanzo, a first year MPA/ID, powerfully put it, “It’s great to do something outside problem sets… My program is about development, which means helping others.”