The dense crowd that will blanket University Yard during the annual Student Organization Fair on Aug. 27 can be daunting to trek through. If you’re looking to get involved on campus and beyond but are overwhelmed by the options, take note of some of these student groups.
Alt Breaks fuses fun with service for one week during winter and spring breaks. Each year, at least 350 students participate on projects ranging from disaster recovery to sustainable farming. The program offers six trips during winter break and 11 trips during spring break to domestic and international locations, including New Orleans, Puerto Rico and Guatemala. Domestic trips usually cost about $400, and students host fundraisers to help cover trip expenses. Interested? Informational meetings begin the second week of September.
The DMV Club
The DMV Club brings students together for service and advocacy projects in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. But their work extends beyond that to develop an understanding of the history of the District’s population and culture, from forums on Chuck Brown and D.C. go-go music to speaking engagements on leadership with Mayor Vincent Gray. Weekly study hours keep members connected, helping them to form strong bonds rooted in service and leadership in the community.
Peer Health Exchange
Peer Health Exchange plants college volunteers in high school health classes to address major health themes — from the birds and the bees to drugs and alcohol. The peer-to-peer model encourages students to open up, program co-coordinator Ayse Cetinkaya said: “We give them information, we don’t talk down to them.” GW volunteers are trained on specific subjects, then head to six D.C. high schools, including Eastern Senior High School and Dunbar Senior High School.
Health Leads connects student volunteers with D.C. clinics to help low-income community members access health resources they need. Student advocates work directly in clinics and Health Leads offices, linking area patients to community resources such as health programs or food pantries. In 2012, over 130 D.C.-based students participate in the program.
International Affairs Society
You don’t need to be a student in the Elliott School of International Affairs to get a taste of global current events. The International Affairs Society links students to speakers, events and embassies across D.C., hosting global figures in disciplines from economics and poverty to global health. Last February, the group hosted the Korean Ambassador to the U.S. The organization also contributes to international philanthropic efforts, holding fundraisers and tackling issues like economic development in Haiti.
Model United Nations
A program within the International Affairs Society, Model U.N. mimics the United Nations structure, assigning countries to delegates and facilitating research, discussion and debate on international issues. GW’s delegation was ranked No. 6 nationally for the 2012-2013 year, which tracks college Model U.N. scores in the U.S., and Colonials have consistently placed in the top 10 in national rankings.
CUPCAKES, ZOMBIES, AND MORE
Buff and Blue Bakers
Each month, the Buff and Blue Bakers meet in Ivory Hall to prepare healthy food donations for nearby shelters. They also hold bake sales on campus, delivering all proceeds to food kitchens. “This is a great way to help me feel like I was baking at home with my family while at school,” said Rachel Getzenberg, president of Buff and Blue Bakers. The club has between 20 and 30 members, and encourages people with varying degrees of baking experience to join.
Humans Versus Zombies
The game of tag that you knew and loved has been reinvented and intensified with Nerf guns and zombies. Humans Versus Zombies pits people against the “undead” — marked by bandanas worn around their head or neck — for seven-to-10-day stretches, and players are vulnerable whenever they step on campus grounds. The hunted use socks and Nerf guns to bring down their attackers and escape. “We used to joke that the most stressful week in college is Humans Versus Zombies week, because you’re running scared, looking for any zombies that might be out to get you,” Humans Versus Zombies president Nick Trokel said. The club hosts field days for interested students.
This financial literacy program, partnered with the GW School of Business, gives D.C. youth the chance to learn entrepreneurial skills. Each year, the local students learn how to run a business, with the program concluding on Lemonade Day, when they operate their own lemonade stands all across the city. “On Lemonade Day, the community witnessed these young entrepreneurs thrive as they put to practice what they learned, averaging $200 net profit per stand,” says city director Emily Massel. More than 500 GW students participated last year and the program is looking for leaders for 2014.