NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- For the fifth consecutive year, Iona College welcomed first-year students to campus for Iona in Mission: Go New Ro, part of the Iona in Mission service program. Iona in Mission offers short-term domestic and international service immersion experiences for students through the office of Mission and Ministry.
This year twenty-one incoming students, two returning student leaders, and three professional staff members from the offices of Mission and Ministry, Student Development, and Off-Campus Housing participated in the Go New Ro service and leadership experience.
The theme of Go New Ro is “GPS: Growth, Purpose, and Service.” Students learn about the two feet of social justice (direct service and advocacy) while becoming acclimated with their new city, New Rochelle, and Iona’s campus community.
During Go New Ro 2014 students learned about hunger and homelessness in New Rochelle and Westchester, and partnered in service with two local food programs: Trinity St. Paul’s Brown Bag Lunch Program (New Rochelle) and Project Family Soup Kitchen (Mt. Vernon). Students also conducted a shoreline clean up of Huguenot and Beechmont Lakes in partnership with the New Rochelle Parks and Recreation Department. Finally, students learned about working with elder adults and visited aging Christian Brothers at St. Joseph’s Care Facility.
“An essential characteristic of the Edmund Rice story is the desire and ability to live in relationship with people made poor and marginalized,” said Stephen Hill, the Coordinator of Iona in Mission. “To begin this process, we engage our Go New Ro students in service projects within the local community to nudge them out of their comfort zones both physically and intellectually. Our hope is to help produce students who respond boldly to the world’s suffering and needs with presence and compassion, so that we all may liberated from exclusion and injustice. This is what Edmund Rice did in Ireland, what the Christian Brothers continue to do around the world, and what our students are called to do.”
Direct service, however, is just one piece of this program. Students also developed their leadership skills and discussed leadership styles with returning students leaders, Iona’s president, Dr. Joseph E. Nyre, and with City Councilman Jared Rice.
Reflection is an essential element of Go New Ro. Students were able to synthesize what they experienced at their service sites with what they learned about leadership and advocacy. The students were able to incorporate the strong mission and tradition of New Rochelle and Iona to better understand their role as citizens of a greater world.
At the conclusion of the two-day event students provided anonymous feedback about their experience: “I learned how devoted Iona is to helping others and making a change in the world.” “You can move the world one small step at a time. Each step shows you care and could influence others to care as well.”