The program started in 1997 as a joint effort between the University's international student services and Children’s Hospital. The program provides international students with the experience of working in a hospital setting and allows them to bring a cultural experience to the patients, families and staff at Children’s.
This semester the seven student volunteers are from Kenya, Cambodia, Taiwan, Columbia, Venezuela, Mexico and Indonesia. As a part of the program the students are required to volunteer at least four times throughout the semester, for two hours on either a Saturday or Sunday.
“The volunteer experience is a good opportunity to be there for others, especially children who are sick and need company,” says Jorge Castro, a student from Colombia. “The children can meet people from other countries and can learn about different cultures and customs.”
The activity center is a place where patients choose what they would like to play or interact with and offers a wide variety of toys and activities. While at the center, the Xavier volunteers encourage the children to talk and play. The students also develop activities that allow the patients to learn about a new culture. The activities may be as simple as writing the patients’ name in a different language, such as Chinese or Korean.
“The program is a great way for our international students to get involved in the community,” says Kathy Hammett, director for international student services. “It fits well with the Xavier mission and provides them with a way to share their unique qualities.”
“We are very pleased with the enthusiasm of the Xavier volunteers,” says Colleen Phillips, Children’s Hospital volunteer director. “They are committed to this program and accept the seriousness of volunteering.”