#CapturingCommunity: Natalie D’Ambra

By S-L Street Team Member JooNa Kim

Name: Natalie D’Ambra

Role in Service-Learning: Service-Learning TA

College: College of Science

Major: Behavioral Neuroscience

Q1: What should everyone know about Service-Learning?

Service-Learning is one of the best ways to help the surrounding community. I think it is a great starting point, since students can get involved without taking up too much work or pressure of not knowing where to begin getting involved. It is also beneficial for continuous growth because this experience inspires people beyond service-learning at Northeastern. For instance, when you graduate, it gives you the skills to interact within the community(s) that you will be a part of in the future.

Q2: What service-learning project are you doing?

The class that I’m doing a service-learning project for is Cell and Molecular Biology of Aging with Professor Javier Apfeld. What we do is incorporate students in an environment where they can communicate with senior citizens to help fight loneliness. Since it is all virtual now, we make phone calls that are about 10~30 minutes long, once a week, just to check in on older adults in the midst of a pandemic. Our goal is not only to help connect seniors with younger folks, but to expose our students to a demographic of people that they may work with in the future .  

Q3: What are some advantages and challenges of Service-Learning being remote?

I would say one of the advantages of Service-Learning being remote is that scheduling is so much easier. When service-learning was in-person, I had to take all of my students’ availability and assign them to visit the elders at whichever time worked for them. Now there is more flexibility for our students and the students can pick whatever time works for them and make the phone calls, accordingly. One challenge of Service-Learning being remote is that it has been more difficult to reach the seniors as many are not expecting a phone call. If the phone line doesn’t work, students need reassignments, which can sometimes disrupt the flow of service. . 

Q4: Any recommendations for people who are joining the S-L team during the pandemic?

I would suggest utilizing the help of your S-L team manager! Before the pandemic, I sorted out my issues by reaching out to my  S-LTM and it helped me better address issues that came up during the semester. Just in general, I think it is important to reach out and seek help when needed. Ask your team manager, utilize your small groups, or even those higher-up in the S-L community.

Q5: What are some fun things to do when in quarantine?

Cooking and Baking! Just the other day, I made chocolate chip pumpkin bread with my roommate. It was absolutely delicious!

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