The Support Group for Ethnic and Racial Diversity/Disaster Shakti (SERD/Shakti) in the Department of Clinical Psychology at Antioch University New England has student members who engage in community service.
SERD is an arm of the Multicultural Center for Research and Practice. The Director of the Multicultural Center, Gargi Roysircar, EdD, founded SERD/Shakti and supervises and trains student volunteers.
SERD/Shakti’s primary purpose is to promote multiculturalism in communities. Since 2004, it has an ongoing community service project with Keene Education’s ESOL program (i.e., English for Speakers of Other Languages). Since 2005, disaster recovery outreach trips have been made to communities affected by disasters, such as, Hurricane Katrina, and wide-spread trauma.
Students do outreach during regular academic sessions, in the summer, and during academic breaks. Students are volunteers who bear their own travel expenses and receive marginal support from fundraising.
Students receive training for outreach projects. This training also includes conversations about diversity, identity, social class, race, ethnicity, and social justice issues of access, equity, and unequal privilege. These conversations are self-referenced or framed on personal observations.
Dr. Roysircar with SERD/Shakti students does presentations nationally and locally on the benefits of SERD/Shakti activities and she also does outcome research.
SERD/Shakti promotes multicultural sensitivity, community support, advocacy, education, and social justice-oriented outreach in communities for individuals and groups who come from diverse racial, ethnic, cultural, class, and gender backgrounds.
- Forming connections with community leaders and local organizations (e.g. English as Second Language programs) that are committed to promoting diversity at systemic levels.
- Advocacy through students’ service learning projects in coursework and through volunteerism.
- Developing partnerships with the University of New Orleans, University of Florida, Charter Nelson School of New Orleans, and Hotel Monteleone of New Orleans to do Hurricane Katrina Relief Work.
- Educate the public on prevention outreach through events, such as the SERD/Shakti’s potluck gatherings, presentations at Keene State College “Waging Peace” Conference and the Elm City Rotary Club of Keene, and presenting research at national professional conferences of the American Psychological Association and the Cross-Cultural Winter Roundtable of Teacher’s College Columbia University.
- Contributing to the scholarly literature on social justice-oriented prevention outreach through research and program evaluation studies.
We offer conversation and friendship service to immigrants in Keene Education’s ESOL tutoring program. For the Katrina Recovery Project, Gargi Roysircar developed a manual, “Disaster Recovery: Counseling Implications.” SERD/Shakti students conduct workshops and small group discussions, using information from this manual, with community members, teachers, and nonprofessional helpers who live in a community that has experienced a disaster. SERD/Shakti students provide handouts from this manual that outline trauma responses and self-help interventions for individuals and groups, as well as play activities for children. SERD/Shakti students blog daily journal entries to reflect on their experiences in a disaster site and to bear testimony to the suffering and resilience of survivors.