Advancing the Common Good
through Community Service at Bowdoin College

Alden Karr '07

Alden Karr '07

Alden Karr '07

Major: Physics
Hometown: Dover, MA

Service activities:

  • MidCoast Hospital Volunteer Program, '05-'07; Student Coordinator '06-'07
  • Community Service Council, '06-'07
  • Alternative Spring Break Nicaragua, Leader '06-'07
  • Common Good Day
  • Spanish 204: Service Learning Class

How did you first get involved in service at Bowdoin?

I first got involved with service at Bowdoin through the MidCoast Hospital Volunteer Program. I started working in the Emergency Department during my freshman year. This year, I have served as a co-chair of the program and a member of the Community Service Council. Most recently, I have co-led an Alternative Spring Break trip to Nicaragua. I became interested in community service at Bowdoin as an outlet to the community. I found that, at Bowdoin my freshman year, I began to slowly lose touch with reality outside of the 'bubble.' Service work provided me with an opportunity to become involved in the community, to become acquainted with students whom I might not have met otherwise and to broaden my perspectives on Bowdoin and the outer world.

What have you gained from your service experiences
and working in the community?

The most important aspect of my service work through Bowdoin has been the opportunity for me to meet many people from a number of different backgrounds and mindsets. Being able to learn from so many people and work with them to improve our world has enriched my Bowdoin experience beyond description. Working at MidCoast and having the opportunity to comfort people when they are the most nervous and pained has also provided me with insight about my future career goals. I just returned from my ASB Nicaragua trip, one of the highlights of my Bowdoin career. While working in Nicaragua I learned the great importance of sharing ideas and perspectives with people around the world. The concept of working with a family to build their house instead of building a house for them as an act of charity has really caused me to reflect on the importance of working together with members of our global community to create positive change.

What does it mean to serve the common good?

Building upon my recent experiences, I have come to drastically change my view of what it means to serve the common good. During my first three years at Bowdoin, I felt that the common good was simply an ideal of service-speak; a desire to help people and a feeling of obligation to give back to a community that I was taking so much from. After more careful reflection, I now envision serving the common good through the eyes of a member of a greater world community, no different from any other. Serving the common good means working with other members of our community to enact positive change, to bring a needed service or to help work with others to achieve a goal. Serving the common good is not a simple act of charity, it is the realization and cooperation among members of the global community that if we work together, great improvements will follow.

Story posted on May 02, 2007

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