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City Days Welcomes Local Youth Today

By May K. Tse
Associate News Editor

Today marks the sixth year that MIThas sponsored City Days, a community service project in which third through sixth graders from 13 Cambridge elementary schools visit the MITcampus and take part in a variety of activities.

"There are two purposes:to bring Cambridge kids to campus and see that MITis a real place with real people, and to make them comfortable with the MITcampus," said Emily B. Sandberg, Program Director for the Public Service Center.

The event also helps many fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups, since it's the first event that they conduct as a group, with their new members, Sandberg said.

"It's also community service that isn't the traditional cleaning up parks but working with kids," Sandberg said.

Approximately 800 students from various MITliving groups and organizations will be on hand to host 500 elementary school children, with 10-15 children per group.

"I've tried to organize events on campus, and Ican't believe we have this much involvement," said Jennifer A. Kelly '99, a PSCintern. "This is by far the biggest community service event on campus."

"It's been really fun and it makes a big impact," said Liora Faliks '98, the City Days student co-coordinator, who has been working on the event since the end of last term. "It's a different way to spend your summer."

Event fosters community relations

City Days plays an important role in the relationship between MIT and the Cambridge community, as it fosters goodwill between MIT and the surrounding neighborhoods.

"Cambridge school and city officials speak very highly about this program since it opens this fascinating campus to school children," said Paul Parravano, assistant for community relations in the President's Office.

"Parents and teachers and administrators all are grateful for the effort and interest demonstrated by participants in this marvelous event," he said.

"As a representative of MITall around Cambridge, Ihave the great fortune of being thanked frequently for the outstanding efforts of our students and the staff of our Public Service Center,"Parravano said.

As well as helping the community, City Days is also good for MIT students, he said.

"City Days is a splendid way to introduce MIT's new students to their new home community and gives them a chance to share their considerable talent and skill with young children in Cambridge neighborhoods,"Parravano said.

Sandberg cited other benefits, including "bonding of living groups, having a chance to let down their hair and have fun before the rigorous school year starts, feeling a part of something really worthwhile."

Parravano also mentioned the influence of MITon children's future paths. "Hopefully some of them will take with them the message that while scientific study and research can be hard work, it also stimulates creativity and great fun," he said.

"City Days also reminds all of us at MITthat we can indeed make a contribution to improving the atmosphere in public education for all children in our city,"he said.

Rain may not affect City Days

With the rain moving this year's Killian Kick-Off to Johnson Athletic Center, and with the uncertain weather for the past few days, organizers considered the possibility of rain today, but were confident they had the situation under control.

"It's the type of event where we have an excellent backup plan, but I'd prefer if it didn't rain on City Days," Sandberg said. "The event has an outdoor festival atmosphere."

"Rain will make it more chaotic but it will still be okay," said Matthew S. Rechtin '99, City Days student co-coordinator. "We'll remain calm and make sure that everything is okay."

"We will embrace the rain," said Monica A. Huggins, PSC coordinator. "Everything will still happen. Ithink it will go really well."

Huggins also cited City Days' impact on the future. "It's an opportunity for MITstudents to be introduced to the Cambridge school community and vice-versa," she said. "Basically, it's the beginning of a relationship that will last through the school year."

"City Days kicks-off all events happening throughout the year,"Huggins said. "It builds a bridge with the Cambridge community."

City Days brings students to PSC

Sandberg pointed out a few PSCprograms that students often get involved in after participating in City Days, including LINKS, where students work in science classes in Cambridge, for one to three hours a week.

"There's also Reach Out, a new literacy program PSCis starting with the Student Employment Office. Students get trained by a literacy specialist through the semester, and if they're on financial aid they can get paid to do it,"she said.

"Hopefully, if MITpeople end up having a good time at City Days, this will be a springboard to other things, and expose MITstudents to the PSC," Rechtin said.

Rechtin emphasized that the PSC is very active and is looking for student involvement and new ideas for community service projects.

"PSCis rejuvenating again," Sandberg said. "Last year we were busy moving into the third floor of student center; now we're alive and kicking."

"If students have an idea for a community service project, they should come see us, because all the ideas for programs at the PSC have been originated by students, including City Days," Sandberg said. "Students have always been a large part of our office."

"We wouldn't be here without them and we wouldn't want to be," she said. "The PSCis only ten years old, but it has staying power and recognition on campus because of students who put the passion behind all of our events."