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Students Making a Difference: An Act of Kindness-Hands Across the Sea

By Joyce Sullivan
On November 28, 2012

Back in 1984, a group of Massasoit Community College students, primarily made up of women on welfare, were seeking opportunities to give back to the community for the blessings they had received, including the opportunity to attend college.

Many of these students were foreign born and felt a sense of responsibility to bring a greater awareness to the MCC community of the student diversity on campus, as well as highlight the needs of others around the globe.
As a result of this hard working group of individuals ,the International Touch Club was born and has been a thriving club on campus ever since. 27 years later, goodwill toward strangers remains the hallmark of the International Touch Club (ITC); evidence of this charitable theme was apparent when the club made a generous donation of $585.46 to the Japanese Red Cross. The donated funds were to assist the victims of the horrific earthquake and tsunami that occurred in the Tohoku Region of Japan. As part of their mission, the thirty student members of ITC and Ida Cerezo- ODonnell, Faculty Advisor, focus locally and globally on the current sufferings of human beings.
Whenever possible the International Touch Club seeks a personal connection to their charitable work. It was ITC student member Yuki Araei Catlin that suggested the unique fundraising idea of using the traditional art of Japanese paper folding known as origami; in order to connect with their project. Volunteers of ITC worked together to create beautiful pieces of origami and cards elegantly decorated with Japanese phrases neatly scribed in calligraphy. Each card was accompanied by an English translation of the Japanese phrase in order to help donators make a personal connection with those who reside thousands of miles away. The origami and cards were sold for $1.00 each to generous members of the greater Massasoit Community College family. The Consulate General of Japan sent a lovely letter of appreciation to Dean Thayer; thanking all involved that gave freely in these difficult economic times to help those whom they do not know. This demonstration of generosity is indicative of the saying - one person can make a difference.
Members of the International Touch Club are representative of many nations and cultures. The ITC meets regularly on Fridays at noon in the Student Center. The agenda for the Friday meetings are diverse, and often include lectures focusing on diversity, as well as an appreciation for the music and art of varying cultures. As part of their meetings the club members along with their advisor decide collectively the types of projects they will undertake. The club also provides an important opportunity for students to gain a better appreciation for the fundamental freedoms they have by residing in the United States of America.
Currently the ITC is working on an Equal Exchange Program. The purpose of this program is to help small farm families by assisting them in selling their goods; while raising money for the various activities of the ITC. Items such as coffee, cocoa, and hand-crafted jewelry will soon be available on campus for sale to help in this endeavor.
In a recent interview with Ida Cerezo-Odonnell, Faculty Advisor, who has worked at MCC since 1983 as an advisor/counselor primarily assisting foreign students with language, academic and cultural inquiries, and Stephanie Vital, ITC President; I learned of ITC's connection to Oxfam. The International Touch club runs an Oxfam hunger banquet each November. The proceeds of the banquet are given to Oxfam for the purpose of buying tools and digging wells to assist the needs of people in developing countries. Each November/December the ITC honors their own work by holding a celebration of thanksgiving. The International Touch Club welcomes new members; and anyone that is interested can contact Ida Cerenzo-Odonnell or Stephanie Vital for more information. Remember - the ITC meets every Friday at noon in the Student Center and all are welcome.

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