Students for a Better World: The Beyond the Classroom Blog

Stories, Resources, & More from the Beyond the Classroom (BTC) Program at University of Maryland

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VolunTeams: An Innovative Approach to Volunteering

Jewish Volunteer Connection

By Jennifer Rottenberg, BTC Student

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern at the Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC) in Baltimore, MD. JVC is a part of The Associated, a nonprofit organization that aims to connect people throughout the Baltimore community. Specifically, at JVC they strive to engage volunteers to meet vital community needs. During my internship with JVC, I was able to contribute to this goal through involvement with VolunTeam, JVC’s innovative approach to increasing volunteerism throughout the community. Continue reading


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Beyond the Classroom Students Lead UMD Safe SHELLter Campus Safety Project


By Sydney Perlotto, BTC Student

This past Thursday, students in UNIV389L: Civic Leadership for Community Engagement held a Film and Focus Group event as part of our UMD Safe SHELLter campus safety project. We invited students to come to a screening of Living for 32, a powerful documentary about the personal story of Colin Goddard, a Virginia Tech massacre survivor. Throughout the film, Colin describes his path to reconciliation, having made it his life mission to stop what happened at Virginia Tech from ever happening again. Living for 32 portrays the emotional reality of the Virginia Tech shootings, and our class chose to show it because it raises important questions about safety on college campuses. Continue reading

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Horses that Heal: The Work of Maryland Therapeutic Riding

Horses for Hope

By Kylie Waterman, BTC Student 

This summer I had the opportunity to work at Maryland Therapeutic Riding  (MTR) in Crownsville in order to fulfill my Beyond the Classroom internship. It is a non-profit dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals with developmental problems, as well as emotional or physical challenges. The organization serves people of all ages using a range of therapies from everyday riding lessons to hippotherapy, which utilizes the soothing and strengthening motion of the horse in coordination with more traditional forms of therapy like physical, occupational and speech therapy. Continue reading

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Beyond the Classroom Provides Real Life Experience

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world" -- Nelson Mandela at the University of Witwatersrand in 2003By Colleen McMullen, BTC Student

In college it is very easy to get swept up in academics, to only think short term, study all the time, and develop tunnel vision on getting good grades. While this may enable a student to master the concepts of his or her major, it is an incomplete way of preparing for the “real world”.  Even easier is failing to think about how what students learn at the University of Maryland applies and will contribute to the rest of the world. College is a rather sheltered environment in which students may learn about the issues facing the world today, but have little opportunity to see them in action and learn what is being done to combat them.

The Beyond the Classroom program has changed this perspective for me. It has exposed me to the world’s leading problems in new and engaging ways: through community service, activism, research, and meeting and speaking with those that are directly affected by challenges and work to fight them. Continue reading

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Converging Issues: Earth Day, An Inconvenient Truth?

Editor’s Note: Beyond the Classroom encourages program participants to identify civic issues that are most important to them.  Through activities, lectures, films, seminars, classes, events, and internships, students learn how they can address those issues through civic engagement, advocacy, and action.  This post is the fourth in the “Converging Issues” series, which are blogs that examine these issues from student and staff perspectives – including what inspired the authors to get involved in their civic issue and how they were involved or can be involved in that issue through BTC.
Kevin Lalama

The author

By Kevin Lalama, BTC Student

“We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”
~ Chief Seattle

A recent Foreign Policy article caught my attention.  The post begs a serious question: Do we care about Earth Day anymore?  I thought to myself, how could we not?  But Elizabeth Ralph’s article poses some disheartening facts; surprisingly, worldwide, the Google search for “Earth Day” is at an all time low since 2004 (Graph 1 below).

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“For Once In My Life” Illustrates That Life Has No Boundaries

By Rebecca Marchwinski, BTC Student

On May 6, Beyond the Classroom showed the film “For Once in My Life” accompanied by the Director of Mission Strategy from Goodwill Industries, Inc. as part of BTC’s People Power: Activism for Social Change course and film series.The film followed a group of people that work as part of Goodwill’s training program and are also members of the Spirit of Goodwill Band. Each member of the band happens to also have a disability,whether physical or mental. The documentary followed the band as they prepared for a grand performance in front of a thousand people and simultaneously delved into the pasts of some of themembers. Before and after the film, Goodwill’s Director of Mission Strategy Brad Turner-Little described some ofthe missions and goals of Goodwill and reactions of the film. Continue reading

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“We are Wisconsin” Illustrates Lessons in People Power

By Ross Heise, BTC Student

The nonprofit “We Are Wisconsin” continues to advocate for the state’s worker’s rights.

On February 25, I attended Beyond the Classroom’s viewing of the documentary “We are Wisconsin” as a part of the “People Power: Activism for Social Change” faculty and film series.  The film showed the historic events that happened last year in Wisconsin and the people that were a part of it. The film details everything that happened at the state capitol starting from when Governor Scott Walker proposed the bill SB11. The bill was his solution to the struggling economy.  He claimed Wisconsin was in a “budget crisis” and the only way to fix it was to cut benefits and wages for public employees. Not only that, but the most surprising development was legislation that would end employee’s right to collective bargaining. Continue reading