A Note from Esther Benjamin – 2017 Global Days of Service
The Laureate network is a force for good worldwide, in every country where we work, for every student. Our commitment to be Here for Good in the communities we serve is not a once a year, or even a once a month, approach. It is a daily commitment that our faculty, staff, and students realize in many ways in their work. But Laureate’s annual Global Days of Service are the point in the year where we most clearly celebrate and measure the impact we are having in the communities we serve.
Our global network of nearly 70 institutions in 25 countries, not to mention the many Laureate offices around the world, are invited during the month of October to express their commitment to being Here for Good by organizing projects and initiatives that involve all members of their university or office community. The Global Days of Service concept started in 2006 with Walden University, a Laureate institution that has always counted social change as one of their core missions. The rest of the network adopted it quickly after, recognizing the shared purpose that exists throughout our organization.
In my previous role as CEO at Monash South Africa (MSA), I saw how a campus could rally around a specific social initiative during the Global Days of Service month. Last year, students and faculty members at MSA organized a challenge open to all staff and students that simulated the environments of sweatshops and forced labor around the world, and then provided clear ways those who participated could raise awareness about anti-human trafficking measures. In Brazil, all institutions in the country have come together to carry out Global Days of Service projects under the name of a single campaign, Construindo Sonhos (Building Dreams), uniting all 12 Laureate institutions there and impacting thousands of people.
The impact in October 2016 was truly remarkable, and the numbers prove it. More than 220 projects were carried out in 16 countries. They involved more than 22,000 volunteers who gave over 220,000 hours during their efforts. The numbers are impressive, but the meaningful engagement of our students, faculty, and staff with their communities is even more important.
Projects will take place at nearly every Laureate institution and office, and I encourage every employee and faculty member to participate in some way. I know that my home office in Baltimore will be partnering with a Baltimore City Public school to improve their technological capabilities and general facilities for students. And at the Minneapolis headquarters of Walden University, they will be getting out in their local community in many different ways. Even if you aren’t based on a campus or in a physical office, we hope you will consider how you can make a difference as an individual or with a small group. The mission we all share – that of impacting the lives of students and communities worldwide – is something we celebrate every day, but this unique opportunity to unify our efforts is a truly special event each year.