|Harris Wofford (left), CEO of the Corporation for National Service, led swearing-in ceremonies last week for the U-M's newest student members of AmeriCorps. In accepting their new responsibilities, the students pledged to 'get things done for Americato make our people safer, smarter and healthier. I will bring Americans together to strengthen our communities. Faced with apathy, I will take action. Faced with conflict, I will seek common ground. Faced with adversity, I will persevere. I will carry this commitment with me this year and beyond. I am an AmeriCorps member. And I'm going to get things done.' Photo by Rebecca A. Doyle|
Wofford, the chief executive officer of the Corporation for National Service, spent March 14 at the U-M talking with students interested in community service and participating in formal discussions with representatives from the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, America Reads, Project Community and Project SERVE. He also met with University students, staff and administrators to talk about the importance of community service to both the education of those who serve and to the communities in which they work.
Wofford outlined six challenges to the young people who, he says, have the power to fulfill Americas promise, the power to ignite the whole.
This is a good challenge to you, at this University, to respond to and to lead the way.
Those challenges are:
During a later discussion period, students debated whether community service should be included as part of a required citizenship course at the university level. Most of those attending the afternoon roundtable dialogue agreed that it didnt make sense to require community service at that level, but agreed with Woffords emphasis on the importance of including community involvement at earlier ages.
His thoughts were echoed by representatives from the Peace Corps, Project Community, Michigan Neighborhood AmeriCorps Program and Project SERVE, who all told of their own experiences in community service and of the rewards.
Kourtney Rice, who is in her second term of service through the AmeriCorps program, said that one of the reasons she chose community service was that not doing so would deprive the community of a vital service it needs to survive. She talked about the support her community gave her and the need to pay it back, but also said, It is not strictly out of obligation. I have learned as much or more as they do from the people I have helped. The teamwork, leadership skills and mentorship are lessons I will apply in the rest of my life.
Wofford helped launch the Peace Corps in 1961, worked with then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton to develop the National and Community Service Act of 1990 and, later, helped draft the National and Community Service Trust Act that created AmeriCorps and the Corporation for National Service.
His visit was sponsored by the Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning and the Michigan Neighborhood AmeriCorps Program.
News and Information Services intern Jill Siegelbaum contributed to this article.