Gandhi once said that, “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” With that in mind, Professor Mark Marino’s WRIT 340: “Arts and Humanities” class has decided to expand their studies beyond the classroom and give back to the USC community through random acts of kindness.
The project, “SC Deeds,” is a service-oriented Facebook page on which students can post videos of their good deeds and nominate their friends to do the same. The program originated a few years ago when Marino, fondly known to his students as “Coach,” incorporated a service project into the curriculum as an exercise in personal growth and addressing issues in the surrounding community.
“There’s been a move among writing classes to incorporate service-learning,” Marino said. “I see it as a terrific opportunity to challenge the students’ critical thinking and creativity in addressing social needs locally and beyond USC’s borders.”
The focus of the entire class is “arts and humanities” and is designed to “explore the mediums and formats now allotted by technology and webspaces,” as student and business administration major Justin Nguyen described it.
“The class is very web-based and aims to create an impact on and through writing. With an online movement such as SC Deeds, we can positively impact our immediate community through video and text posts that serve as a conduit for positive change,” Marino said.
The class includes students in a wide variety of majors, from economics major Velvet Arriola to biology major Shannon Rindahl to communications major Berkeley Cavignac. Though the service project is not required, the students believe that it is a good opportunity to join something that should be a part of everyone’s life.
“The community service does help with personal growth,” Arriola said. “And being part of something that makes a difference can be really fulfilling.”
She’s not the only one in the class who feels that way.
“It’s just a good thing to do,” said Jimmy Quinones, a business administration major. “Writing is rarely an in-class activity so we are able to use some of our class time to try and make the world a better place.”
The class debated various ideas for what to do for their service project, including supporting veterans to volunteering for the American Heart Association, but when Tamara Flosse, a student majoring in environmental studies and business administration, suggested the concept for SC Deeds, they knew they had found the right one. Because the concept allows the community to get involved, the amount of service is unlimited and can possibly include the entire Trojan Family.
“My idea was that using Facebook friends’ nominations could start a trend at and around USC,” Flosse said. “God knows there are a lot of people in need around here. This is utilizing the simple fact that if a lot of people do a little we can get to considerable results. There would also be some sort of snowball effect, hopefully.”
The page has over 379 likes to date and about 24 videos uploaded since it debuted on March 31. Deeds that have been recorded so far include picking up trash on Figueroa Street, donating blood and leaving quarters on top of parking meters for the next driver. Some videos are short and to the point, others are funny and entertaining, but every deed shows how easy and rewarding it is to perform an act of service.
A favorite of Jordan Larsen’s involved an important problem.
“My favorite was the one where someone drove her friends home from a brunch where they had been drinking,” she said. “Drinking and driving is a serious pressing issue. This student saved her friends the cab fare and her actions promoted safe and responsible drinking and helped a friend out.”
Another video gave a little love to the security guards that stand on the corners to keep this USC community safe.
“My favorite involves helping out workers in the community with cold drinks on hot days or hot drinks on cold nights,” Quinones said. “Those guys have tough jobs so they need some love.”
The page requires very little to get involved. Most videos are less than a minute long, and doing a good deed and posting it is open to everyone.
“We are really hoping to reach as many people as possible, and so far it’s really been a matter of selecting the right people,” Flosse said. “It’s a little soon to tell, but so far I think SC Deeds has been doing pretty good considering we only have a presence on Facebook.”
The students believe a page like this is incredibly important in the hectic life of a college student, where it is incredibly easy to get caught up in daily life and forget to look out for the well-being of others. SC Deeds allows students to take a step back and think about others.
“Community service is important in anyone’s life because if you’re not giving back, then you’re just taking.” Quinones said. “The world would not be too fun to live in if everyone was just a taker.”
The class is hoping that their page will start a trend of good deeds that will motivate the USC community not only campus-wide, but in the surrounding community as well.
“We hope that the USC community and beyond will see this act as a noble effort to spread good deeds throughout campus,” Cavignac said. “By paying it forward in real life [and including] an online presence, we hope to make this go viral and keep the good deeds rolling.”