Coming from the big city of Los Angeles, it was hard to feel that I really was a part of the community. With Bloomington, both the university and the city felt like just one community, and I really felt a need to give back while I was a graduate student even if this time in grad school was just me passing through for a short time. Fortunately, it was really easy here in this particular city. Many do not know that Bloomington, Indiana, was the first city after New York City to have a municipal department dedicated to community service called the Volunteer Network.
Over just the past 1.5 years, I have already volunteered at the soup kitchen, and I tutor at the local high school near where I live. I always think of volunteering as a selfish thing because whatever I do, I get a burst of energy much greater than any coffee and I get it immediately whenever I can (or schedule it). No matter what you will do, check out the city website for links to other helpful associations and organizations. The city is remarkably connected to everything, both government and otherwise, that you will have a ton of things to do and it’ll be hard to just pick 1 or 2.