They painted and played with children. They planted and ploughed. They packed food.
On July 30th, 68 pre-matriculate first year medical students united for the first time to dedicate to Philadelphia their last "free" weekend before submersing themselves in the rigors of medical education. These students - hailing from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, California, South Africa, India, Canada, and the list goes on - were joined by 13 upper-year student leaders to kick off Jefferson Medical College’s 2nd annual Gold Humanism Honor Society Service Day.
Students explored the backdoor communities of Philadelphia through six participating volunteer sites, including three homeless shelters, a refugee garden community, an urban beautification project, and a major hunger relief organization. One MS1 student learned that hunger lives right outside of his door here in Philly and was inspired to continue helping:
"I had such a great time doing this. I’ve even recommended volunteering at Philabundance to a few of my other friends and family."
Lest the striking art and historic architecture of Philadelphia be ignored, students gathered early in the morning before their chosen volunteer projects to take a trolley ride with Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program.
Started in 1984 by then-Mayor Wilson Goode and artist Jane Golden, the Mural Arts Program is a prime example of how creativity, empathy, and masterful skill can transform lives: All murals were painted by former graffiti writers who were given the option of juvenile detention for their crime or art training for their recognized potential. Students marveled over some of the more than 3,000 murals on public buildings that detail Philadelphia’s rich history, dynamic cultures, and diverse people.
Together, the experiences of volunteer work alongside Philly residents and navigation through diverse mural-adorned neighborhoods proved a terrific introduction to Philadelphia and to the patient population with whom these new medical students will be working.