Fifth annual service fair features volunteer organizations and service opportunities for students


Anoushka Buch

Vaishnavi Murari (11) talks about service opportunities at the intersection of music and computer science as a student representative for the volunteer organization MusiCodes, along with the co-founders Michelle Si (11) and Aarzu Gupta (12), at the annual service fair. The service fair featured booths from 28 volunteer organizations in the Nichols Auditorium on Oct. 30.

by Sarah Mohammed and Nicholas Wei

Student-led and local volunteer organizations presented various community service opportunities to upper school students during the annual service fair, which was held in the Nichols Auditorium on Oct. 30. 

The fair, which has happened annually since 2015, helps students explore volunteer service further than their graduation requirement through a diverse array of organizations that host informational booths. 

Upper school biology teacher Mike Pistacchi, who began the first service fair at the upper school, appreciates how the fair has grown through the years. 

“Our first service fair had, I think, 10 organizations and was at lunch. And that’s now evolved to 28 organizations, with an assembly and a whole hour of the middle of the day,” Pistacchi said. 

Pistacchi recognizes the importance of service for Harker students and feels that the service fair is a good opportunity for students to engage in outreach. 

“I think [service is] important for everybody. And to the extent that we have good fortune and power and privilege, I believe that we have a responsibility to help those who do not have as much good fortune or power or privilege,” Pistacchi said. “So within our community, we have a lot of potential to do good in this world, both now and in the future.”

One of the featured organizations was the International Outlook Foundation, started by seniors Tiffany Zhao and Ellen Guo, which fosters multicultural relationships by connecting American and Chinese high-schoolers through Outlook Pals, their pen-pal program. 

“We realized that we have a lot of resources as multicultural students and then decided to utilize those resources to help fundraise and also to help foster cultural exchange between the Chinese and Americans here,” Tiffany said.

Student representative Nathan Sudeep (12) hosted a booth for Power of Words, an organization that teaches writing to underprivileged kids. Nathan values community service to understand and interact with groups with which he typically does not get the opportunity to engage. 

“I feel like [volunteer service] is a way to get involved in your community,” Nathan said. “We’re in our own very secluded bubble [here] and community service allows us to step out of that bubble, see the problems with our inner our own community and help address those problems.”

While student representatives hosted the booths, students interested in joining community service organizations walked around the atrium, asking questions about the various volunteer organizations and signing up for the ones that piqued their interests. 

Though freshman Zubin Khera has not yet started to partake in community service actively, he feels he should start volunteering not only due to the graduation requirement but also based on a genuine desire to help others. 

“I need to do more [service]. Service should be done not just for volunteer hours … [and] good college apps,” Zubin said. “It should be done because you’d genuinely want to do it.”