Students Volunteer Across Sint Maarten During Community Action Day
Community Action Day encourages physicians-in-training to go beyond the campus to engage with community partners through service projects focusing on health, education, animal welfare, environmental awareness, and more.
More than 200 AUC students, faculty, staff, and their family members spent part of their weekend volunteering at service projects during Community Action Day. Held three times a year, Community Action Day is an AUC tradition that connects students with local organizations to give back to Sint Maarten and contribute to various community initiatives.
During this semester’s event, which took place on Saturday, February 23, the 217 participants donated approximately 665 hours of service in support of Sint Maarten community priorities. Spaced throughout 21 volunteer sites, students cleaned up the premises of local schools and museums, supported animal adoption events, conducted free health screenings, assembled playgrounds, led educational activities for children, assisted with entertainment for elderly residents, and mapped out local resources to improve preparation for natural disasters, among other activities.
A group of students partnered with Tri-Sport to pick up 24 bags’ worth of litter from the shores along Guana Bay and Geneve Bay, totaling about 80 kg (176 lbs). Photo courtesy of Fouad Berry.
For 1st-semester student Anna Quinones, her first Community Action Day helped reinforce her values of social accountability and what it means to be a student physician. As a volunteer with the Sint Maarten AIDS Foundation providing free HIV testing for residents, she appreciated the opportunity to promote awareness of the disease and help prevent its spread with education.
“I was interested in participating with the Foundation because they are a nonprofit organization which gives back to the community by focusing on a prevalent worldwide epidemic,” she said. “I gained invaluable knowledge and clinical experience providing free HIV testing to people on the island.”
Students provided free HIV testing for residents with the St. Maarten AIDS Foundation. Photo courtesy of AUC AMSA.
In addition to participating in the activities of Community Action Day itself, students are also involved in organizing the event—a tradition which dates back to the founding of Community Action Day at AUC. Last year marked the 10th anniversary of Community Action Day, which first began when Drs. Emmanuel Ofori and Beatrice Kenol (Class of 2012) envisioned and worked to create a day of service that would foster positive change in the community.
For Gina Nathwani, a 4th-semester student, sharing in this legacy and helping to plan Community Action Day with the Student Volunteer Committee has been her “favorite experience so far at AUC.”
"I'm grateful to have been able to help run Community Action Day as a member of the Student Volunteer Committee for the past three semesters,” said Gina. “Though the dynamics, fluidity, and relative ease in terms of how the day is run changes on a semester by semester basis, the impact of our work and passion for service demonstrated by our students and faculty never does."