A group of 40 international students recently worked to make life better for New York City’s less fortunate, participating in a food drive on Staten Island.
Students from China, South Africa and Kazakhstan, led by Professor Jian Xiao, helped with the Staten Island Notre Dame Club‘s Bread of Life Drive in late March. The group helped to pack and deliver more than 70,000 food items to 25 nonprofit organizations on Staten Island that help the hungry and underprivileged.
Xiao said the event helped to teach students about project management and team-building, and it gave them some cultural and language training as well. But in the end, she said, participating in the drive allowed students to “add value to society.”
That sentiment was echoed by JingXiong “Shawn” Zhu, a graduate student in accounting. Zhu, a member of the Fordham Chinese Business Society, has been in the United States for eight months.
“There are many international students who just have no experience living in a foreign country, so this is the first time they live without their native language,” Zhu said. “So they have to gain some experience from different perspectives. I think the community service is one way to gain experience like this.”
This is the second year that Fordham students have participated in the event, but the first year the Chinese Business Society helped out as a group, Zhu said.
Zhu also said the event helped international students with networking. After the work was done, he said, managers from companies such as JPMorgan Chase and Deloitte talked with the students about their careers.
But the mission of the day was never far from their thoughts, and the students’ work was appreciated by Joseph P. Delaney, the director of Bread of Life Drive.
“I commend [the participants] for their example of ‘Living the Gospel’ and putting into action what Pope Francis has asked us to do on behalf of the people of God, especially the poor and the hungry,” Delaney wrote in a letter to Fordham President Fr. Joseph M. McShane.