August 23, 2004

Freshmen Work To Improve City

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Now in its ninth year, the Pre-Orientation Service Trip continues to foster first memories of Cornell and Ithaca for a group of new incoming students. Together, 41 participants and 16 team leaders planted shrubs, cleaned out honeysuckle, rehabilitated houses, washed lockers, landscaped, composted, built and cleaned for over twenty non-profit organizations in the Ithaca area.

This year, POSTers arrived on August 15 to spend their first week in Ithaca volunteering for organizations such as the Cornell Cooperative Extension, Ithaca City School District, Hospicare and the Women’s Opportunity Center. After their first night sleeping in a Cornell dormitory, participants moved down to take up residence on the floor of the Ithaca Middle School.

“It’s a good way to get to know everyone, like a sleep over,” said Nicole Moskal ’08. From Monday through Thursday, eight teams of seven people traveled to a new volunteer site each day, unaware of what they would be asked to do. They then helped with small but necessary tasks, such as labeling books for the Family Reading Partnership, to hard labor, including helping the Finger Lakes Land Trust maintain its land. Yet, through volunteering, POSTers not only bonded together and built new friendships but settled into their new community as well.

Frank Strab, volunteer coordinator for the Museum of the Earth, was appreciative of the team members’ effort.

“Usually we don’t have enough manpower to get some of these bigger projects done. It’s a great help,” Strab said.

Many POSTers expressed pride for their community service.

“Ithaca is going to be where we live and it’s good to help it out,” Moskal said.

Moskal was part of Team One, which volunteered for the Community Beautification Program on Tuesday. According to Carlan Grang grad, the Community Beautification Program accomplishes extra projects that the city workers do not have enough time for, such as planting gardens in public areas. Last Tuesday, on the median between E. State Street and Seneca Way, Team One stripped a large section of grass and laid mulch in preparation for the completion of a new perennial garden. Although only three days had passed since the new students had arrived in Ithaca, the team members were already relaxed around each other and comfortable in their new community.

“I would have been nervous, like tenfold, if I didn’t do this,” said Ansel Brasseur ’08. “I love the program. I love meeting the new freshman coming in,” said Rachel Garcia ’06, a POSTer in 2002 and team leader for her second year.

“They seemed to bond really quickly this year,” said Marcia L. Harding, co-organizer of POST. According to Harding, there was more socialization between the groups this year than in the past, when participants only became friends with the members of their own team.

With 41 students, the amount of interest was far below the originally expected number of 72. According to Harding, the cause of the decrease in participants was due to school starting a week sooner this year. Students who might have signed up for POST may have been prevented because of the need to finish commitments at home, such as summer jobs.

“A lot of kids really have to make money for as long as they can,” Harding said.

Harding also acknowledged that participation was down around thirty percent in other pre-orientation programs. Wilderness Reflections canceled trips and a similar program to POST held by Ithaca College also experienced lower numbers.

“[POST] is a great initiation to the school,” Brasseur said.

Wearing their POST t-shirts, the 41 students returned to Cornell Friday to join their fellow freshman and transfer students for orientation.

Archived article by Casey Holmes
Sun Staff Writer