Pace Center offers volunteer learning opportunities near and far
By Eric Quiñones
Princeton students have had the opportunity to reach out to the campus and local communities as well as to branch out a bit farther to learn more about the country's history through programs organized this fall by the Pace Center for Community Service.
Campus Volunteer Day, which took place Nov. 8, included a series of outdoor projects in the nearby community. Participants helped to clean sections of the Delaware and Raritan Canal, Cadwalader Park in Trenton and three elementary schools in Princeton.
Campus Volunteer Day was sponsored by the Pace Center, Community House, Outdoor Action, the Student Volunteers Council, the Undergraduate Student Government, the Frist Campus Center and New Jersey Community Water Watch.
A week earlier, eight Princeton students returned from the first Civil Rights Awareness Trip (see photo below), which was organized by the Pace Center and Dialogue@Princeton. The trip, held Oct. 24 through Nov. 1 during fall break, covered many key areas of the civil rights movement of the 1940s through 1960s.
The trip included visits to Greensboro, N.C.; Selma, Montgomery and Birmingham, Ala.; Oxford, Miss.; and Atlanta. The group also met with many people involved in the struggle.
"We were able to hear presentations from people who were involved in marches, sit-ins and desegregating schools. We met with people whose lives were impacted by violence and hatred, and it was amazing to see how much faith and courage these individuals expressed both in the time of the civil rights movement and today," said freshman Blair Moorhead.
Freshman Paul Martin called the trip an "incredibly intense and transformative experience" that created instantly strong friendships among the participants. Martin said one of the most powerful moments of the trip was meeting Chris McNair, the father of one of four girls killed in the bombing of a Birmingham church in 1963, and joining him to watch a Spike Lee film about the tragedy.
"The week was extremely intense for all of us. It was emotional, educational and enlightening," said Sasa Olessi Montaño, director of the Pace Center, who accompanied the students along with Fleurette King, coordinator of Dialogue@Princeton, and Heather Camp, program facilitator at the Pace Center.
"Not only did ordinary people put their lives on the line and face death, but they really did not believe that they would see change in their lifetime," Montaño said. "They truly did this for generations to come, for their grandchildren and their great- grandchildren. That is amazing."