International students volunteer 1,000 hours of community service

April 20, 2011

Pamela Sari, a first-year doctoral student in American Studies from Indonesia, assembles food pantry kits at Food Finders Food Bank. She is one of more than 100 international students who are part of the Boiler Out! Volunteer Program, which formally recruits students and coordinates volunteer activities each semester. The students who participated in the spring semester contributed a total of 1,000 volunteer hours to the community. (Purdue University photo/Andrew Hancock)

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University international students are learning about their community by volunteering hundreds of hours each semester through the Boiler Out! Volunteer Program.

"We want to give international students the opportunity to experience life outside of the university's walls, and giving back to the community through service projects is an excellent way for students to learn about life in America, their fellow students and themselves," said Sara Randrianasolo, immigration counselor in the office of International Students and Scholars and Boiler Out co-coordinator.

More than 360 students have participated in the Boiler Out! Volunteer Program since it began in 2009. Because of its popularity and waiting lists, the program was restructured this year to be a formal, semester-based program. This spring's group consisted of 100 committed volunteers who contributed a total of 1,000 hours of service during the semester.

Students apply for the program and are selected based on a number of criteria, including their past volunteer experience, general interests and schedule availability. Even with the new cohort structure, however, some events continue to have waiting lists.

The program averages a dozen volunteer events per month, and it will offer its first summer session this year. Fifty students from 10 countries are registered and volunteer events will include the Indy 500 Festival Community Day as well as Lafayette area community festivals. Students involved this spring semester represented 19 countries, and they individually averaged 10 hours of service. Some students contributed 40-50 hours each.

"Students are encouraged to only speak English during events, which helps break down the language barriers," said Maureen Doyle, immigration counselor and co-coordinator of Boiler Out! "This also is helpful when our students are volunteering alongside domestic students and community members."

The program also includes a formal orientation program, where students get to know one another and the expectations of the program are discussed. Previous service activities include volunteering at mobile food pantries, constructing walking trails at Camp Tecumseh, ushering at Lafayette Symphony Orchestra concerts, organizing games at school fundraisers, playing bingo at nursing homes and building homes with Habitat for Humanity.

More information about participating in the program is available at People who want to suggest volunteer activities can contact boilerout@purdue.ed .

Purdue is home to one of the largest international student populations at a public university with 6,761 students from 125 countries. The Office of International Students and Scholars is housed in International Programs.

Writer:  Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723,

Sources:  Sara Randrianasolo, 765-494-5770,

                  Maureen Doyle, 765-494-5770,

Note to Journalists: Journalists can attend upcoming volunteer sessions from 2:30 to 4 p.m. on April 22 at Cumberland Pointe Health Campus, 1051 Cumberland Ave., or 10 a.m. to noon on May 7 at Camp Tecumseh, 12635 W. Tecumseh Bend Road, Brookston, Ind. For more information and volunteer details, contact Amy Patterson Neubert, Purdue News Service, 765-494-9723,