Students in ‘Introduction to University Life’ course head off campus to volunteer their time with RRVCA


Amy Halvorson

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Students in ‘Introduction to University Life’ course head off campus to volunteer their time with RRVCA

University of North Dakota students have been taking their education off campus by teaming up with Red River Valley Community Action (RRVCA) in a humanitarian effort to assist with the local Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).

It's all part of a UND course called Introduction to University Life, or simply "U-Life."

"The overall goal of U-Life is to provide students with the tools and support needed to be successful, not only in their first-year, but throughout their entire time at the University of North Dakota, said Stacy Borboa-Peterson, UND coordinator of Success Courses. "We want to help students create the connections and relationships that will support their success."

Eight sections of the class recently went to RRVCA to package about 37,000 pounds of food and deliver the food boxes to residents in the Grand Forks area.

This is the second year of incorporating a service learning project as a part of the U-Life curriculum. The class tries to tie their project to the designated book they are reading for the semester. This semester's book, The Heart and the Fist by Eric Greitens, touches on the importance of community service.

Through this project, students also were provided other kinds of new experiences in Grand Forks such using public transportation to get and from their community service locations.

"The RRVCA project was appealing because it was going to provide commonality across most of the sections," Borboa Peterson said. "It's a shared experience for a large number of our first-year students. It gives them something to talk about outside of class, in the dining centers or in the residence halls. I've already heard students talking about (riding) the city bus and comparing experiences. That's what we want to see."

RRVCA is a private, nonprofit human service organization serving Nelson, Pembina, Walsh and Grand Forks counties, with the goal of helping low-income people improve their lives. And CSFP works to improve the health of low-income elderly people who are at least 60 years old. It does this by supplementing their diets with nutritious U.S. Department of Agriculture foods. The programs provide meaningful and beneficial ways for the U-Life students to participate in the Grand Forks community.

"Interacting with first-year students during their first semester on campus is so rewarding. We have the opportunity to engage with them in smaller classes and discuss a variety of topics related to their academic and social transitions." Borboa-Peterson said. "I am amazed at how much they grow over the course of a semester. They become much more confident in who they are, as a person and as a student. It's exciting to be a part of that transition."

Amy Halvorson University & Public Affairs student writer

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