About 300 D.C. Public Schools students headed to Copley Lawn on Sunday for Spring Fling, a chance for DC Reads and DC Schools Project tutors to inject some carnival fun into their students’ weekend.
Accompanied by 200 participating Georgetown students from various student groups, the attendees enjoyed bounce houses, field games, face painting, arts and crafts and performances during the Center for Social Justice sponsored event.
“My favorite part was the [Asiafest] performance. It was really fun to see our tutors dancing and doing martial arts on stage,” said Jia Xin, a kindergartener at Thomson Elementary School in D.C. who works with DCSP.
The festivities were organized by Georgetown Outreach for Literacy and Education, an advocacy group that works to increase awareness and provide resources for education problems locally and nationally.
The day served as a bonding experience for Georgetown students and their tutees with whom they interact twice a week. DC Reads sends around 220 Georgetown students each week to local elementary schools to tutor approximately 400 first to third graders on a one-on-one or classroom-style basis.
The DC Schools Project focuses on teaching English as a second language and improving literacy for over 150 public schools students of all ages, as well as more than 100 adults in the District. DCSP focuses on one-on-one tutoring in public schools as well as in immigrant homes, where Georgetown students can be a resource for the entire family.
Spring Fling also provides an introduction to a college campus for many of the local children present.
“It’s exciting for the kids to come experience college when they otherwise wouldn’t have the chance,” Rianna Folds (COL ’14) said. Folds tutors at three different schools through DC Reads and enjoyed showing her tutees campus buildings like the Intercultural Center.
Spring Fling allows Georgetown student groups to engage in community service on campus and approach an issue — education in the District — that they may not normally address. Participants said that the event helps them more visibly interact with themes that are close to their personal interests.
“Everyone that is in [the Protestant Student Forum] has some experience with youth, so we all sympathize about the demands of education and we’re passionate about education,” said Anthony White (COL ’11), chair of the PSF. “We feel convicted to reach out to youth.”
Spring Fling is eagerly awaited by many of the students involved in DC Reads and DCSP and becomes a handy incentive during the tutoring process, according to DC Reads tutor Nursultan Eldosov (SFS ’14).
“The thing with this day is, if [the students are] being bad and not focusing, this is always a day you can refer to. It’s a motivation to come to Georgetown,” he said.
For community service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega, Spring Fling is an integral part of the organization’s Service Week. The week’s projects include hosting an Urban Education Panel Tuesday evening, participating in Knit for the Needy with Hoya Outreach Programs and Education on Tuesday, delivering dinner to the homeless in Dupont Circle in conjunction with several religious organizations on Wednesday and teaching a dance class with Dance DC on Friday.
“While every semester our organization participates actively in about a dozen consistent projects, through Service Week we are able to do something different; we are able to better increase awareness about social justice issues in the D.C. area, as well as giving back to Georgetown,” Kevin Leahy (COL ’12), vice president of service for APO, wrote in an email.
Other campus groups became involved in Spring Fling because of the crossover among their members and the CSJ’s education-focused programs.
“This is something we try to be a part of because we have a lot of members in the fraternity and in DC Reads,” said Cassie Williams (COL ’12), philanthropic committee manager of Alpha Kappa Psi, Georgetown’s professional business fraternity.
Other student organizations involved included community service sorority Adelfi, professional foreign service sorority Delta Phi Epsilon, Hoya Outreach Programs and Education, InterHall, the Muslim Students Association and the women’s club Ultimate Frisbee team.
Many participants felt that the event fostered a sense of campus unity and increased awareness of other groups’ initiatives.
“Normally we are very separated, but we all have the same goal,” said Marisa Morin (COL ’13), outreach coordinator for GU Children’s Theater, which performed “The Reluctant Dragon.”
The event seemed to achieve its goal of exciting students about the collegiate experience.
“The school is so beautiful, and everyone is so nice. I want to go there when I’m bigger!” said Jia Hui, a first-grader at Thomson Elementary who works with DCPS.