Renewing America Through Service

April 24, 2009

By Katie O'Connell

On Tuesday, April 21, President Obama signed into law the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which will expand opportunities for Americans of all ages to participate in national service, including strengthening programs for Americans to volunteer overseas.

During the signing ceremony on Tuesday, President Obama called on every American to serve his or her community and country in any way possible. He said,

All that's required on your part is a willingness to make a difference. That is, after all, the beauty of service. Anyone can do it. You don't need to be a community organizer, or a Senator - or a Kennedy - or even a President to bring change to people's lives...

 

...We need your service, right now, at this moment in history. I'm not going to tell you what your role should be; that's for you to discover. But I'm asking you to stand up and play your part. I'm asking you to help change history's course. Put your shoulder up against the wheel. And if you do, I promise you - your life will be richer, our country will be stronger, and someday, years from now, you may remember it as the moment when your own story and the American story converged, when they came together, and we met the challenges of our new century.

The White House will be collecting and sharing stories from Americans all across the country. How do you plan to serve? Through study abroad? By hosting international students? Tell the president how your work in international education serves the global community. Submit your story now.

Are you looking for ideas on how to serve? Read NAFSA's Renewing America's Global Leadership paper to see how international education and NAFSA's mission support President Obama's call to service. You can also visit www.serve.gov, a comprehensive clearinghouse of volunteer opportunities across the country and around the world. At www.serve.gov, you can easily search for volunteer opportunities by zip code, and then sort them by the amount of time you can commit and where you would like to volunteer, whether in your own community or in another country.

You can also register your own events and service projects on www.serve.gov to share with others. The Web site has partnered with numerous organizations, including the Peace Corps and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. All of these partnerships, as the president explained, "connect deeds to needs" and are "just the beginning of a sustained, collaborative and focused effort to involve our greatest resource -- our citizens -- in the work of remaking this nation."


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