245 AUC students, staffers assist in local community

AUC students at the end of the Guana Bay beach clean-up.

AUC students tutoring youths.

Player development at the St. Maarten Little League.


CUPECOY–More than 240 students, staff and family from American University of the Caribbean (AUC) School of Medicine spent their Saturday volunteering at various organisations in St. Maarten.

Outfitted in grey T-shirts and sneakers, the students worked at 12 community sites as a part of this year’s Community Action Day (CAD). The tradition, which takes place three times a year, is an opportunity for the medical school and students to give back to the island and support various community priorities.

The concept for Community Action Day began a decade ago. AUC started collaborating with local organisations such as the Diabetes Foundation, I Can Foundation, and Tzu Chi Foundation to create service-learning opportunities for students to work alongside the community and effect positive change. The first Community Action Day had just four volunteer projects. Now, AUC regularly hosts 10 or more projects with more than 150 students, staff and family members.

Saturday’s Community Action Day was a special milestone, AUC said. In addition to representing the 10th anniversary of Community Action Day, it was AUC’s first service day since Hurricane Irma hit Sint Maarten last September. With 245 students, staff and family participating, it was also one of the largest Community Action Days on record. In total, AUC provided 680 hours of community service.

“This Community Action Day was particularly significant for AUC,” Assistant Dean of Service-Learning and Community Affairs Dr. Golden Jackson said. “Our students and staff were motivated to help with the island’s recovery and give back to this community that has given us so much. There is a real sense of pride and a responsibility to sustain St. Maarten for the next generation of students.”

A large part of Community Action Day this year focused on post-Hurricane Irma clean-up. Students and staff worked on self-sustainable gardens with Tzu Chi Foundation, prepared new sensory spaces at Ideal Nursery School, cleared debris and worked on construction projects with K1 Britannia Foundation and reinstalled exhibits at the St. Maarten Museum in Philipsburg.

AUC also cleaned up Jordan Road and Mullet Beach and partnered with Tri-Sport to clear debris from the Guana Bay and Genevevre Bay hiking trails. Throughout the day, students collected dozens of bags of trash.

In addition to clean-up projects, AUC participated in elder care, youth mentorship and tutoring activities. The university hosted 20 children from the I Can foster home for breakfast and organised playtime and exercise activities.

At Philipsburg Jubilee Library in Philipsburg, AUC students taught an open lesson on the human anatomy and the organ system and at the Little League Stadium they tutored Player Development Little League players in reading while also finding time to play ball.

For another 40 AUC students, Community Action Day was an opportunity to put what they have learned in medical school to use. At Carrefour Market on Bush Road, students worked with the Diabetes Foundation of St. Maarten to give free glucose and cholesterol tests and at Rupert I. Maynard Youth Community Centre in St. Peters, students volunteered with St. Maarten AIDS Foundation to offer free HIV tests and provide information about positive and safe sexual health.

“Community Action Day is a great way for AUC to connect with the island and people,” said third semester student Graham Dersnah, who volunteered at the HIV screening event. “I think volunteerism is one part of being a physician, so it’s important that we do as much as possible right from the beginning of our medical school journey.”

Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/74146-245-auc-students-staffers-assist-in-local-community