Tag Archives: volunteer

INTELLECTUAL SOCIETIES IN COLLEGE: How Philologos is Facilitating Student Growth

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[6 minute read]

This article is an interview with Sean Silvia, a USC Dornsife junior double majoring in History and Archaeology as well as minoring in Classics. He serves as the Vice-President of the Philologos Society, a student-run organization founded in July 2019 at USC by its current President, Richard Petrosyan. Richard is also a USC Dornsife junior majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Health Care Studies. In this interview, Richard and Sean’s discussion focuses on Sean’s experience at Philologos. But before delving into the heart of the interview, allow us to offer you some insight into the Society’s background.

Introducing Philologos

Being unable to find a platform at USC promoting the exchange of ideas, debates of an interdisciplinary nature, and unique opportunities for humanitarian initiatives all-in-one, Richard decided to synthesize these ideals to establish the strong pillars for an intellectual society. The Philologos Society exposes its members to a diversity of academic fields and thought, expands their general knowledge, and helps them develop social consciousness through various altruistic endeavors. Without intertwining classroom development with the outside world, one’s collegiate experience cannot be complete.

Since the Society’s inception in July 2019, Richard has been tirelessly working to ensure its growth within the USC community as well as to establish partnerships with non-profit organizations and educational institutions outside of USC that provide all members with a wide range of opportunities. One of the greatest challenges has been to launch the expansion campaign for Philologos’ activities during the pandemic while having to stay remote, which the society has successfully accomplished.

A year and a half after seeing this Society come to life, we present to you a glimpse into the heart of the university’s one and only intellectual society, USC’s one-of-a-kind vibrant community of students eager to succeed in order to thrive in the midst of one of the extraordinary social contexts of our time.

-Richard Petrosyan, Philologos Society President

Interview with Philiogos Vice President

Q: Sean, would you describe the Philologos Society in your own words?

A: The Philologos Society is a combination of multiple things. It’s essentially an all-in-one intellectual society, with both an academic and philanthropic branch. It aims to enrich both the members and surrounding community with the pursuit of knowledge; we feed people both intellectually and literally with our volunteer service. 

Richard Petrosyan delivering a meal to recipient Steven

Q: How has your involvement with the society affected you?

A: The Society made me approach things from a philosophical angle in a way that I hadn’t before. Within archaeology, I’d done a lot of research projects that were very specific – “Let’s talk about this site- what it means, what’s the specific context.” But within Philologos, we’re encouraged to ask these bigger questions. We address debates within the field. I’ve explored the deeper, more philosophical and ethical side of archaeology- along with other topics, like medicine and journalism – in ways I hadn’t considered before.

It’s been very fun, being able to synthesize big debate topics into easily understandable language and talking about things that you don’t really get discuss to in a more detail-oriented class (like how to deal with the ethical implications of digging up corpses). 

-Sean Silvia, Philologos Vice President

Q: What are your favorite activities?

A: My top activities are definitely writing articles for our column and volunteering.  

I love all the volunteering opportunities – I enjoyed the Meals on Wheels phone reassurance in particular. I also really like the services we provide to high school students. I know as a high schooler, I had really good instructors who set me up well to be where I am today, but not everyone has access to the kinds of resources I did.

Q: Do you have any significant stories to share?

A: There have been some heartwarming moments for sure. During the phone reassurance program, the person I was talking to had said that she’d gotten very little contact because COVID-19 was reducing the number of people she could see, and how nice it was to talk to someone. The question of the week that we were assigned was about music, and she told me about her love of the Backstreet Boys and that she had a cat that would bob along to the rhythm of their songs. I found it heartwarming to be able to bond with this person through our shared love for music.

Fall 2020 Grand Debate with the USC Hybrid High School Debate Club & the Philologos Society

Q: Do you think the Philologos Society has adapted well to the current situation?

Continue reading INTELLECTUAL SOCIETIES IN COLLEGE: How Philologos is Facilitating Student Growth

Leaving a Global Footprint

By Jackie Kim

Coupling my global cultural background and my passion in finance, I got the opportunity to travel to Honduras this past spring break with an international group called Global Brigades. My fellow brigadiers and I were paired up with a rural community in Honduras to rebuild a community bank. Because it was a seven-day brigade, we had to work under a strict time limit to deliver a high impact solution. Ultimately, we opted for innovative solutions that taught basic concepts such as saving and borrowing and even introduced advanced topics such as keeping track of interest rates and accumulated dividends through general ledger accounting. We accomplished this by adapting a segmented approach, where we targeted both children and adults in the community so that there would be awareness among different age groups. We used interactive models and colorful graphics as our communication strategy, and established a community bank with a clear set of regulations.

However, the most memorable part of the trip was not the planning process nor the actual implementation of our solution. Instead, I was most affected by the values that the community bank stood for and how the community members reflected them in their daily actions. Unlike a commercial bank, a community bank is not for profit, and exists to better the community. The community bank can only run with the volunteerism of dedicated community members who are not afraid to trust the community and the bank as an institution, and consequently, are willing to ask for the same trust from other community members. In a rural village, it proved to be difficult to convince many community members to save their money, especially because they were living on a day-to-day basis to sustain their families.

Even with the difficulty of communication to the rest of the community, the faith that the community bank members showed in the system inspired me. As a foreigner, I had felt rude when introducing and implementing a strange system of banking into such a tight-knit community, but the fact that various members opened their homes and minds up for us helped me understand the human trust and connection in its raw form. It was eye opening to not only build up a bank in a rural village with no prior knowledge of basic finance, but also to experience feelings and interactions that are so uniquely human.

Photo is author’s own

Ultimately, this experience strengthened my desire to serve the global community. The beauty of the intercultural exchange that I observed was so positively overwhelming that I was determined to still be involved with Global Brigades even after the trip. I’m so honored to be leading Global Brigades at Marshall (the USC Chapter of Global Brigades—you don’t need to be in Marshall to be a part of it!) this upcoming school year! I found a way to leave my global footprint while also getting inspired to seek more personal interactions in an intercultural context, and I invite all of you to do the same!

Featured image by Stuart Herbert on Flickr

Jackie is a Junior majoring in Business Administration, with potential minors in Computer Science or East Asian Studies. She has lived all over the world, from Korea to Singapore, to various parts of America. She is fascinated by cultural diversity, and her goal in life is to become a diplomat for the United Nations. She is a big fan of learning languages, and she is hoping to learn her sixth one soon. Jackie is involved in various international campus organizations such Model United Nations, as well as community service groups, and the residential government, and would love to introduce you to cool leaders on campus if you want to get more involved! She loves playing ice hockey, playing traditional Korean music and, and socializing with people in her free time! She can’t wait you meet you and get to know you! She also has a lot of school spirit because she absolutely LOVES USC

How JEP Created A Home Away From Home

By Sam Newman

Growing up in a small suburb in the middle of Long Island, New York, I was a kid that loved to get involved in the community. Whether it was through a program at the local library, helping the elderly learn how to send an email, or volunteer work at my elementary school, helping the kindergartners do a science experiment with marshmallows and toothpicks, I loved the inspiration I received when helping others.  Therefore, upon arriving at the University of Southern California, I found it imperative to discover a service niche in which I could participate.  Luckily, the opportunities for volunteer work at USC are limitless.

One day after class (it was a Monday I believe),  I walked up the steps of the awkwardly placed house at the end of Trousdale and gingerly watched my head as I stepped under the “JEP Sign-Up Now!” banner.  Earlier that week, I had learned about the Joint Educational Project, and their mission to have USC students assist and tutor in the classrooms of local schools around the USC area, schools that are typically made up of kids from low income and struggling families.  A few weeks later, I was kneeling down at the world’s tiniest table in Mrs. Oldaker’s kindergarten class at the 32nd Street School, trying to sound out the word “dog” to a cute little girl with pigtails. “D-aw D-aw D-aw,” I said trying to make a “D” sound.  The young girl understood and scribbled the letter “D” onto her paper.  The next two letters provided more of a challenge.  “Aw-G Aw-G Aw-G,” I said, recognizing that the letter “O” did not sound like itself in this scenario and that the odds of her figuring that out were slim to none.  Mrs. Oldaker approached and reassured me that the young students did not need to get it right every time, just as long as they were practicing the letters of alphabet and getting used to the sounds.  To be honest, I don’t know how Mrs. Oldaker has been teaching kindergarten for 24 years (25 next September she consistently reminded me). It is hard work!

Continue reading How JEP Created A Home Away From Home