In the Spotlight: CSLTC Makes Service Meaningful for Students

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Here's a short piece about the Communtiy Service Leadership Training Corps: a group of 20 first-years and 20 second-years who travel around the city conducting service projects and learn about urban issues non-profit administration while there at it! They've recently visited the Gary Comer Youth Center and Jane Addams Hull House garden.

by second-year Julia Pei, for the University Community Service Center Newsletter

Officially, the Community Service Leadership Training Corps (CSLTC) is a "two-year intensive service and leadership training program run by the University Community Service Center". However, the 20 first-year students who are selected annually to become a part of CSLTC would agree this modest description doesn't do the program justice.

During their first year, students engage in weekly issue sessions on various areas of service and participate in related, biweekly service projects in the Chicago area. During their second year, students use these experiences and discussions to focus on a year-long internship with a nonprofit organization or community service RSO on campus.

However, CSLTC is much more than a group of people gathering to discuss service and leadership. For many, CSLTC becomes a unique and close-knit community as dynamic and organic as the individuals who comprise it.

On Tuesday nights, CSLTCers arrive early to meetings to catch up with friends. Conversation is not only governed by their shared interest in service but also by the personal connections they have forged. It is out of this unique group dynamic, bursting with passionate and engaged individuals that something wonderfully rare and influential evolves.

Fourth-year Hannah Taber, one of the three program coordinators this year, reflects, "I was very excited to work with CSLTC this year because of the enormous contribution that it has made to my education and overall experience at the University of Chicago." All three of the current program coordinators, Prakriti Mishra, Aviva Rosman, and Hannah Taber, are former CSLTCers.

Beyond the current CSLTC coordinators, many other CSLTCers maintain close relationships with the University Community Service Center. Of the twenty current second-years, five are current UCSC program coordinators. Many CSLTCers have also founded community service RSOs including UChicago Mentorship by Correspondence (UMbC), International Volunteer Initiative (IVI), and Global China Connection (GCC). These groups all grew out of the collaboration of several groups of current and former CSLTCers.

Perhaps such a close-knit and multidimensional group dynamic is driven by the wide range of majors and interests that the group represents. Beyond the expected public policy and political science majors, the current second-year group also includes computer science, English, economics, interdisciplinary studies in the humanities, biology, and anthropology majors. CSLTCers' interests within service are just as diverse, ranging from refugee work to domestic violence to environmental sustainability.

Perhaps CSLTC is driven by the fact that it is still a young program directed by three program coordinators per year who all leave their own footprints on the program. Perhaps it is driven by the passion and enthusiasm of the individual CSLTCers.

Or perhaps, as second-year Swagateeka Panigrahy reflects, it is driven by the mere simplicity of the program. "What I love is that CSLTC doesn't make too much of itself. At first, it may seem like a group of people who get together for service, but it quickly becomes a collaborative and diverse environment where you really begin to work through the consequences of service and your place in it. That's why these bonds are so strong."


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