The Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service announced in October the selected locations and organizations for its 1+4 Bridge-Year Service Learning Program, which was officially unveiled last February. The program will allow up to 50 new students to participate in a year-long community service project either in the United States or abroad before their first year at Tufts.
Tisch College Senior Program Director Mindy Nierenberg said the school selected sites that combined “meaningful service” with an “education component.” She added that she was surprised by the overwhelming interest in participation she received after the initiative was launched.
“We just had avalanches of emails,” she said. “I had people asking me if we could start the program [earlier].”
According to the Tisch College website, the students will have the options of serving in Los Angeles, Calif., Detroit, Mich., Philadelphia, Penn., Tucson, Ariz., Oaxaca, Mexico, Santa Catarina, Brazil, Madrid, Spain and León, Nicaragua. In the selected cities, Tufts has partnered with organizations including LIFT and City Year, for which students will work during the entire year.
A committee of students, faculty, alumni and Tisch College board members selected the organizations included in the program’s inaugural year, according to Nierenberg. The committee spoke with members of the organizations over the phone and visited the sites last summer, she said.
The 1+4 Bridge-Year Service Learning Program includes sites tailored to areas of community service, according to Leslie Eme, regional director and Youth Ambassadors Program manager at AMIGOS de las Américas, which has partnered with the Tufts program in Mexico and Nicaragua.
Within this organization, students can participate in one of three programs: Puente a la Salud Comunitaria, which is focused on community health and related businesses, CAMPO, which is focused on the environment, or Instituto Estatal de Educación Pública de Oaxaca, which is focused on technology and engineering, according to Eme.
Nierenberg said that they hoped to include a broad range of programs.
“What I was really trying to do in building those choices and options was, number one, think about Tufts students and know what they are interested in and really provide a range,” she said. “You could do this and have everyone working in a school or an orphanage which is really stereotypical … these are very unique opportunities that people would not get otherwise.”
While participating in the program, some students will take an online class — administered by Tufts — in order to connect their academic background with their service work, according to Nierenberg.
In each of the eight sites, there will be between three and seven fellows, Nierenberg added. She said that in all the domestic placements, fellows will live together at nearby universities; Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich., the California State University in Los Angeles, Calif., Temple University in Philadelphia, Penn., and the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz.
All students placed abroad will live with host families, with the exception of fellows in Madrid, who will live in an apartment and share meals at a children’s shelter, she noted.
First-year Isaac Lasko explained that he took a gap year in South America before coming to Tufts this year and benefited from the experience.
“After the gap year, I feel like I have so much more context. I have a much broader perspective on what goes on in the world — [I have] so many more ideas about what I want to do in life and so much more inspiration for where I want to be in 10 years,” he said.
Nierenberg said that she hopes the program will continue to expand.
“There are many people who would like to see it grow,” she said. “We would love to see it grow.”