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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AIDS Walk Washington Raises Civic Awareness

Beyond the Classroom students Jeremy Hsiao, Tariq Jah and Cynthia Ezedike at the 27th Annual AIDS Walk Washington!

Beyond the Classroom students Jeremy Hsiao, Tariq Jah and Cynthia Ezedike at the 27th Annual AIDS Walk Washington

By Jeremy Hsiao, BTC Student

On the brisk morning of October 26th, 2013, over 12,000 people converged on Freedom Plaza in downtown Washington, D.C. to participate in the annual AIDS Walk Washington to raise awareness about a disease that has devastated this world, this nation, and this city. HIV/AIDS may seem like a disease limited to developing nations, but the truth is Washington, D.C. has one of the highest rates in the United States.  The disparity for minorities is even greater as the HIV/AIDS rate in the African-American community is higher than other communities. According to the Mayor’s annual report, in 2011, 2.4 percent of the Washington, D.C. population is living with HIV or AIDS with 718 new cases. Continue reading


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Immigration Rally Provides Hands-On Lesson in Advocacy

By Randolph Tidd, BTC Student

Video by the author from the Rally for Marriage Equality at the Supreme Court on March 26, 2013 for Beyond the Classroom:

On April 10, I attended a rally for immigration supporters at the west entrance to the Capitol. From the moment I arrived at the top of the Union Station Metro Station, I became part of the steady stream of rally goers headed towards the Capitol grounds. It was obvious this was going to one of the most organized political rallies of the year. The e-mail alerts from Casa de Maryland didn’t seem that different from other events held in previous years. This year, however, the immigrant community has found new energy in the wake of last year’s election, and the impact should continue to reverberate at many levels. Continue reading


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Community Service with Neighborhood Farm Initiative Teaches About Local Gardening Efforts

by Julia Tuvin, BTC Student

NFI works to change underutilized land into healthy gardens in DC.

NFI works to change underutilized land into healthy gardens in DC.

On a Saturday morning in early April, Beyond the Classroom students participated in a community service gardening project with the Neighborhood Farm Initiative. The students who volunteered were active participants in transforming the garden to prepared for the planting season.

Together volunteers who regularly work at the garden and BTC  students were assigned tasks to do in the garden. Some people were leveling and weeding soil so new plants could be planted. Some made a trail so there was a distinct spot to step so gardeners would not step on the growing plants. Some measured twelve-inch squares so plants to educate people who have little space on how much can be grown in one square foot. Volunteers also organized irrigation hosing so water will be able to get to every plant. All the volunteers were able to help in some way, and by the end of the morning, all the tasks were completed.

One question readers might be asking themselves is, why did Beyond the Classroom volunteer with the Neighborhood Farm Initiative? Continue reading


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Thanksgiving: A Day of Service Allows Students to Be Grateful

by Caroline Wilson, BTC Student

The author, pictured hard at work making sweet potato casserole.

“Feeling grateful or appreciative of someone or something in your life actually attracts more of the things that you appreciate and value into your life.”  — Northrup Christiane

The weekend before Thanksgiving, Beyond the Classroom students had the honor of helping make a pre-Thanksgiving feast for the women at Calvary Women’s Services.  Calvary is a place for homeless women to get more than just a safe place to live and nutritious meals.  Calvary also provides woman educational programs, employment opportunities, mental health services, addiction recovery support and much more.  Their mission includes “providing a safe place for homeless women to live and providing basic services to help educate and empower women for independent living.” Continue reading


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Green Festival Inspires Sustainable Life Choices

BTC students had the opportunity to attend one or two days of the DC Green Festival this semester.

by Philip Marx, BTC Student

On September 29th I had the opportunity to attend the Green Festival in Washington DC, a project of Green America and Global Exchange.  The festival’s mission was to promote building green, helping the planet, eating healthy, and inspiring change with over 100 visionary speakers.  At the festival, there was a green marketplace, where exhibitors and different organizations in the local economy showcased different consumer products that they had available for the public.  There were twelve different stages with speakers centering on issues of social justice, ecological balance, and a sustainable economy.  Local organic food and drinks, short films, book signings, live art demos, cooking demonstrations, yoga, a sustainable beer and wine garden, and more satisfied the interests of all those in attendance.

Conveniently located in our nation’s capital, the festival showed just how vital our world’s sustainable and environmentally conscious growth is to the future generations of our planet.  The event demonstrated the change and direction our country must pursue in order to become a global leader in public health, renewable energy, and protecting our planet’s resources for future generations. Continue reading


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Hispanic Heritage Festival Allows Students to Experience Local Culture

Four BTC students and the new BTC Graduate Assistant, Krista Heiner, (second from the left) at the Hispanic Festival.

by Teresa Millett, BTC Student

College Park was home to the 32nd annual Hispanic Heritage Festival on Sunday, September 16. Each year, Lane Manor Park hosts a Hispanic Festival that celebrates the culture and heritage of Hispanics in Prince George’s County and the DC/Maryland/Virginia area. The half-day long festival attracts up to 15,000 people with live music and performances, ethnic foods, vendors selling hand-made products, games, pony rides, and much, much more. This year I had the opportunity to go and experience the celebration!

There were several different stands representing the University of Maryland at the festival including stands from the Language Programs, Admissions, and the Police Department. Students from the University, both with Hispanic heritage and those without, also came to enjoy the fun. There were several Beyond the Classroom students (including myself!) who got to explore and participate in the festivities. The purpose of the event was to allow students to participate in events in the local community to learn about culture in the surrounding area. Continue reading


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International Literacy Day: A Civic Learning Trip Takes Students “Beyond” their Borders

by Pamela Barry and Lauren Houser, BTC Students


A video of the full morning program from International Literacy Day, 2012.

On Friday, September 7,  we had the privilege of joining fellow Beyond the Classroom students for events to honor International Literacy Day, sponsored by USAID and the Brookings Institution, at the Ronald Regan Building in our nation’s capitol. The day was devoted to exploring international literacy programs and discussing new approaches to teaching literacy skills worldwide.  The day was celebrated with events all day, including a multi-media presentation in the morning. Continue reading