Volunteer Venture

Volunteer Venture is a service-learning pre-orientation program for incoming students. It introduces participants not only to each other, but also to the Shepherd Program, its academic offerings in poverty and human capability studies, and opportunities in community engagement. Participants can expect to have fun, build meaningful relationships, engage with community agencies, and think critically about issues related to poverty and human dignity.

“I would consider the most valuable aspect of my VV experience to be the conversations and discussions that our team had together. We delved deeper into so many complex issues and now I feel gifted with a more impassioned sense of clarity and activism for poverty-related issues.” -VV2020 Participant

“Volunteer Venture has definitely had an impact on me in that I am more confident in my ability to get involved in the community in which I live.” -VV2019 Participant

“I deeply enjoyed the discussions we shared as a group. The trip leaders were extremely open and understanding throughout all our conversations. The bonding activities were also great because we all got to know one another well from the start, which enriched the discussions we had since we all felt comfortable sharing our perspectives with honesty, humility, and respect.” -VV2020 Participant

VV2021 Trip Options:

  • Childhood: It is our goal to introduce incoming first year students to Washington and Lee's Shepherd Program through an immersive exploration into the implications, impacts, context, and consequences of class-based inequities in America's early childhood education systems and structures. Through panels, conversations, and hands-on service work with community partners and local experts in the areas of education policy and youth work, Volunteer Venture participants will be exposed to the complexity of poverty and education on a personal level.
  • Food and Housing Insecurity (2 trips): We plan to investigate the intersections between food and housing insecurity, health, and technology as we consider who makes the policy decisions that happen largely behind the scenes and whom those decisions may disproportionately affect. Collaborating with a range of community partners and organizations, we will utilize what we gain through open discussions with peers and professionals in respectful service engagement. Throughout this experience, we aim to hold considerations of historical factors and ethical implications close, all the while growing in our individual perspectives on policy, civic responsibility, and how we can work to uphold the dignity of each person.
  • Law and Justice: This trip strives to explore several current event issues as it relates to Law and Justice at the intersection of poverty. We will discuss issues such as mass incarceration, the war on drugs, immigration rights, and machine-learning bias within the legal system. The significance of doing so is to expose students to a wide-breadth of knowledge about the legal system while also connecting it back to the mission of the Shepherd Program, which is to understand and address the causes and consequences in ways that will respect the dignity of others.
  • Social Determinants of Health: We will investigate issues pertaining to poverty and healthcare through service with community partners, keynote speakers, and group discussions. We will look to answer a few key questions: What are the causes and consequences of inequitable treatment by the healthcare system? How are marginalized communities disproportionately affected by inadequate healthcare? What role does access play in these issues? How do these issues compound? We will also look at these questions through the lens of topics such as addiction and the US response to COVID-19. Join us in understanding our responsibility in contributing to equitable and just access to healthcare. Upperclass student leaders in the Shepherd program are excited to meet you and make this the trip of a lifetime!

We hope to make your introduction to Washington and Lee a memorable and meaningful experience. For questions about the Volunteer Venture program, please contact Jenny Davidson, Assistant Director of the Shepherd Program, jdavidson@wlu.edu or 540-458-4669.  For questions regarding registration, please email theleadingedge@wlu.edu or 540-458-8754.