What is the Chinatown Committee?
What services do you provide?
What kinds of activities do the programs do?
What events does the Committee itself hold?
Do I need to speak Chinese to volunteer?
Do you run during the summer?
Do I have to be a Harvard student to volunteer?
How do I join (as a volunteer)?
How do I join (as a student)?
How do I get more involved, and how can I find out more?

What is the Chinatown Committee?
      The
Chinatown Committee is a non-profit, student-run organization at Harvard University serving Boston Chinatown. The Committee is associated with Phillips Brooks House Association and is made up of 7 programs (6 term-time, 1 summer), all run free of charge: Afterschool, Big Sibling, Elderly, ESL/Citizenship (Term and Summer), Quincy School, and Teen. With more than 150 volunteers and nearly 400 clients, we are one of the largest service groups on campus. The Committee itself is composed of the directors of each of the programs and is headed by the chairs.

What services do you provide?
      Services
encompass tutoring, mentoring, and adult education for Boston Chinatown residents, and best of all, they are all FREE. Afterschool, Quincy School, and Teen emphasize child tutoring and creative enrichment, while Big Sibling focuses on one-to-one child mentoring. ESL/Citizenship offers adult English education to all levels of Cantonese and Mandarin speaking students, a Citizenship class to prepare immigrants for the U.S. citizenship exam, and a GED class for obtaining a high school degree. Elderly Visitation provides aid, company, and a sense of caring to senior citizens while teaching them basic English skills.

What kinds of activities do the programs do?
      Each
program devises and plans its own activities beyond normal program hours. For instance, our children's programs have gone apple-picking, ice-skating, skiing, biking, and bowling, while our adult programs have organized potlucks, and visited everywhere from Foxwoods Casinos to the New England Aquarium.

What events does the Committee itself hold?
      The
Committee throws various events throughout the year to more tightly integrate the 6 programs. In the fall semester, the Fall Counselor Retreat brings together all new and returning volunteers for the purpose of making them more aware of the community we serve. In previous years, the retreat has held food scavenger hunts in Chinatown, sending volunteers into the smallest nook and deepest cranny to retrieve exclusive Chinese delicacies. New recruits will never be lost in Chinatown ever again. The directors also hold the Chinatown Benefit Concert every year in October - as our main fundraiser, talented Chinatown volunteers/musicians perform classical music to help raise money for our 6 programs.
      In the spring semester, the Spring Director Retreat marks the changing of the guard, as old directors step down and their chosen replacements take over. The retreat gives directors a chance to get to know each other as well as plan future Committee events. Later on, the directors throw the gigantic Chinatown Cookout, a day-long barbeque/picnic in the Radcliffe Quad for all volunteers and clients. As an opportunity for eating, playing, performing, and celebrating the end of the year, the Cookout closes out the term in style. In the past, we have had such groups as the Asian American Dance Troupe and the Ballroom Dance Team perform for us on the Moors Terrace.
      Finally, the Committee mails out a newsletter every semester, detailing the most up-to-date exploits and adventures of each program to our 400+ alumni. The articles are archived in the Newsletters section.

Do I need to speak Chinese to volunteer?
      Absolutely
not. Many of our volunteers have little to none Mandarin or Cantonese speaking ability. While volunteers who can speak these languages are valued, especially for lower-level ESL classes, the ability to speak English is most important. In fact, we stress speaking English during program so that our students will be more familiar with the language.

Do you run during the summer?
      The
Committee runs every day of the week nearly every week of the year, including the summer. The ESL Summer Program picks up where ESL Term leaves off with its some 250 adult students. In exchange for a meal plan and PBHA housing (usually at one of the 12 houses on campus), about 15-20 tutors (ranging from Harvard to Wellesley to MIT to graduate students) spend 20 hours a week teaching class during the weekends and holding office hours during the week. Tutors are allowed to design their own unique curriculum for the 10-week program. It's a convenient way to find free housing in Boston for the summer, and as a part-time committment it still leaves you room for other activities and pursuits. Contact chtnesl@hcs.harvard.edu for more information.
      We are also associated with Chinatown Adventure (CHAD), a full-time, day-long, 8 week summer program that works mainly with the 60 children of Chinatown Afterschool. Senior counselors are given a meal plan, housing, and stipend (approximately $3000) for their work. Visit their website for more information.

Do I have to be a Harvard student to volunteer?
      Definitely not.
We draw volunteers from many Boston-area schools, including Wellesley College, Boston University, and MIT. Additionally, graduate students and up from Harvard Law School, Harvard Med School, Harvard School of Education, and even Harvard alumni who work in the Boston area volunteer for us as well.

How do I join (as a volunteer)?
     
Contact us or email us anytime. Most recruiting takes place at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters, but some programs (like Big Sib, which has a one-year requirement) welcome volunteers any time during the year. If you are interested in a particular program, you may also contact the program directors.

How do I join (as a student)?
      Again,
Contact us or email us anytime. We give preference to those residents who live in the actual Boston Chinatown area, but some ESL students come from as far as Cape Cod every weekend to attend classes! Acceptance into our programs depends on the rooms and volunteers available.

How do I get more involved, and how can I find out more?
     
Contact us! We always need more help in planning and organizing events, and contributions of any kind are always welcome. We're looking for dreamers and believers who are enthusiastic about community service and serious about making it work.