Large cohort of Oles set to join Lutheran Volunteer Corps
Founded in 1979, the Lutheran Volunteer Corps is a national program that annually places more than 100 volunteers in 16 cities across the country, including Washington, D.C., Chicago, Seattle, Atlanta, and St. Paul. The program matches each participant with a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving local communities and championing social justice. Placements vary from schools to legal clinics, women’s shelters to environmental organizations.
“Many St. Olaf students are interested in LVC because it provides an opportunity for graduates to gain valuable experience while continuing with intentional exploration of values such as service, spirituality, social justice, community, and sustainability,” says St. Olaf Piper Center for Vocation and Career Associate Director of Service and Leadership Nathan Jacobi. “A year of service can also be a valuable time for recent graduates to refine their vocational and career interests.”
Such was the case for many of the St. Olaf alumni accepted into the program, including Benjamin Arbeiter ‘13, who hopes his time with the corps will give him a chance to put his education into practice and serve others before applying to medical school.
“For me, the most enticing aspect of the LVC was the ability to live in an intentional community with other people my age,” says Arbiter. These communities house three to six volunteers together in a low-income, racially diverse area of the city with a modest stipend that encourages living simply.
“In this arrangement, I will be able to collaborate with other volunteers to put the skills I gained at St. Olaf into practice in everyday life,” he says.
The Lutheran Volunteer Corps’ unique approach to service encourages its volunteers to explore their spirituality. And though its name suggests a strong Protestant background, the corps is open to individuals of all faiths and traditions.
This, and its willingness to accept international students, encouraged Sujata Singh ‘13 to apply. “Born and raised as a Hindu, I was also a little hesitant about the program’s focus on the Lutheran faith,” says Sujata. “However, as I talked to more people in the program, I found out that they not only accepted my faith, but encouraged me to explore and develop my spirituality in any way I chose.”
Furthermore, volunteering with the corps allows Singh to explore her interest in social justice before applying to study international development in graduate school.
“My year with the LVC fits very well into my intended career path,” she says. “I am really excited to meet new people and learn new things. The LVC will show me how one can fight for social injustices, empower people, and develop communities.”