News reporter's notebook

PKG debuts annual fair to highlight community service

For their first annual Social Action Fair last Thursday, the Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center (PKG Center) hosted a variety of local community partners to present volunteer, work study, and paid internship opportunities from Greater Boston in Lobby 10.

The venue highlighted the stark contrast between MIT and these organizations despite their remarkably close proximities. Under the dome, the metaphorical bubble in which we reside during our time at the Institute never seemed so prominent.

So often, MIT students yearn to make a tangible difference. At the fair, organizations from around Boston and Cambridge presented numerous ways to do just that.

An undergraduate student who attended the fair, Mariam Dogar ’20, said “I think it’s really great that something like this is at MIT because ever since I came to campus I was interested in doing something in the Greater Boston area, but then psets happened and you get so caught up in the bubble but this is a reminder...that people, students, my age are getting involved in things like this.”

At each table, representatives from non-profits, social enterprises, and government agencies stood at booths and explained their missions. They spoke of their histories with MIT students, and when reflecting on past contributions and initiatives, their eyes would light up. Every representative had a personal anecdote related to a positive experience they had gained from their work.

The fair presented a wide variety of options that catered to MIT students’ skillsets. Many focused on biotech, healthcare systems, tutoring, and coding skills. Boston Cares was created to match volunteers with specific opportunities based on their preferences and skills. Boston Medical Center was also in attendance and was looking for volunteers and interns to aid in their Autism Program, whose teen program was borne by an intern in previous years.

Tutoring Plus spoke more specifically on their “I Build” workshop that encourages middle school students to explore engineering solutions in daily life. The Petey Greene Program allows students to TA and tutor prison inmates throughout the year.

One student volunteer described her last year with the program: “[i]t keeps me more grounded in daily issues facing people in the greater Boston community outside of this teeny tiny bubble where the greatest problems I think about most of the time are my psets. It helps me get in touch with these much larger systemic problems a lot of people are facing and lets me be able to make a tiny droplet of impact in addressing those problems.”