Yesterday, all first-year students attended "Celebrate Service Day,” an event that is part of the GC Core curriculum. Nine sections of the Identity, Culture, and Community course went off-campus to local service agencies across the county.

Some of the locations included La Casa and Habitat for Humanity, organizations that help build houses for people, nursing facility Greencroft Communities, and Feed the Children, an Elkhart non-profit that provides food, clothing, and other necessary items to needy children in the area.

Celebrate Service Day is an opportunity to directly exercise the “culture for service” that Goshen College has to offer.

“Service is intricately linked into who Goshen College is,” said Bob Yoder, campus pastor. “It gets students out of the GC bubble, and helps them get to know all the good things happening in our community.”

Occurring for the past 15 years, Celebrate Service Day is not just about service.

“Students are getting to know service agencies in the county while also working side by side and getting to know each other in that context,” said Bill Born, Vice President of Student Life.

“Part of the fun is just being together.” Building relationships with service organizations is another bonus; students are often offered food, hospitality, and great appreciation for the work they do.

Yoder went with a group to Pathways Retreat, a place of prayer, rest, and renewal located on the North side of Goshen. The group did outdoor work, cleaning trails, chopping firewood, and mulching. The 13-acre property had two outdoor labyrinths, and the organization gave the group 30 minutes of quiet time to get a feel for what the retreat was all about.

“ [This experience] was great for students to have some conversations you don’t normally have in a classroom,” said Yoder.

Student Life has received a lot of positive feedback from students about Celebrate Service Day.

“[Students] appreciate the opportunity to get off campus, to get to know each other,” said Born. “While the work isn’t always exciting, students value that service is a part of who we are and who we want to be here at Goshen College.”

While the day is mandatory for first-years, the hope is not only to do good through service, but for students to learn to relate with each other.

“It is part of the Core because it serves as a day for the class to form their own community,” said Yoder. “It is a formational experience.”