For the 22nd year, a group of incoming Cornell undergraduates came to Ithaca for four days of community service through the Public Service Center’s Pre-Orientation Service Trips (POST), Aug. 13 to 18. The program focuses students from all seven undergraduate colleges on a single goal – connecting with and contributing to their new home.
“I wanted to be involved in the Ithaca community and I thought that this would be my best chance to get familiar with it, not just in terms of community service, but also in terms of talking to people in Ithaca and learning more about it,” said Ronnie Dumesh ’21, a biological sciences student from Staten Island, New York.
Throughout the week, students worked at a number of Ithaca sites including the Sciencenter, where they created science kits for second-grade visitors, and the Ithaca Children’s Garden. But the students did not just stay in Ithaca.
The group that traveled the farthest visited Waterloo, New York, with the Physics Bus and helped the traveling educational program engage children with science experiments. Serving in nearby towns, students helped the Kiwanis Club of Dryden paint facilities at their youth baseball field and did grounds work at Meadowgate Equine Rescue in Newfield.
Beyond their interest in community service, students also had the opportunity to meet their peers before orientation week. Approximately 60 students participated in POST this year, hailing from across the nation and internationally. Through POST, students can meet peers who may live in their dorm, take the same classes or share a common interest.
“I chose to do POST because I wanted to be around service-oriented people,” said Cameron Dunbar ’21, an ILR School student from Tarrytown, New York. “I wanted to be part of the intellectual community at Cornell, and I felt that a lot of the people who I wanted to connect with were here.”
POST also connects incoming students with community service sites where they can volunteer during their undergraduate career. Many students choose to stay involved with programs that they enjoyed working at during their first week at Cornell.
“POST was a program where not only did I meet freshmen who became some of my closest friends, but also learned about a lot of organizations that I stayed involved with, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, which I’m really passionate about,” said Emma Moore ’20, a human development major from San Diego and a POST leader.
For students who choose to return to POST as leaders after their freshman year, POST can become an important part of their Cornell career. “One of the most important parts of being a leader was taking my perspective and struggles as a participant and applying them over the last three years,” said Craig Hannon ’18, a development sociology student from Houston.
POST introduced students to a multitude of ways Ithaca residents and Cornell students alike invest in the greater Ithaca community. “There was a sense of community awareness and involvement in Ithaca that is unlike any place I’ve lived in or been to before, and a sense that Cornell is genuinely committed to embracing that,” said Griffin Smuts ’21, an urban and regional studies student from Los Angeles.
Shay Collins ’18 is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences.