They came, they saw, they rolled up their sleeves and went to work. And while many entering freshman frolicked in the sun during their final days at home, forty enrolled in PennCORP -- an intensive hands-on community service program that pitted them against the city's social woes. "It is a powerful experience to have within your first 24 hours at Penn," Director of Community Involvement Todd Waller said last week. "They are in some of the highest crime areas of the city, participating in intensive community service." PennCORP -- the Penn Community Outreach Program -- began four years ago to connect entering freshman with campus and city community service organizations. This year students helped Habitat for Humanity build a house for a homeless family, traveled to 5200 block of Market Street to help the Philadelphia Anti-Grafitti Network repaint buildings, and worked with senior citizen in the nearby New Ralston House. Students also played with latch-key children at the Dixon House and discussed primary care advocacy at the Community Maternity Project, according to College sophomores Kim Van Naarden and Joe Bongiovanni, who coordinated the program. In addition to the on-site service work, campus and community leaders spoke on the importance of service each evening. Students said that speakers such as Director of Penn Programs for Public Service Ira Harkavy helped them understand how to better become involved. "What's great is that all of the students here are interested in community service," College freshman Heather Gimbel said last week. "Even better is that we are all from ideological differences. Whether its conservative or liberal we all want to achieve the same ends." Many of the participants said that some of the most enjoyable parts of the orientation program were the late-night discussions where students from all political perspectives would spar over welfare and solutions to the homeless problems. "Its been a bonding experience with the other kids," College freshman Andrew Holloway added. The program, in its fourth year, invited the entire freshmen class for the first time this year. Previously only certain freshman houses were invited. PennCORP enrolled a record-high of forty students, up from fifteen last year, according to Assistant Director of Community Involvement Marcine Pickron-Davis. The application requires about six essay questions on topics related to community service and social injustice, she added.Comments powered by Disqus
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