‘Handheld Worcester’ Initiative Encourages Virtual Community Building and Civic Engagement in the City

Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Holy Cross is finding creative ways to help students interact with and feel like a part of the Worcester community in dispersion during the pandemic, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports in a recent article. 

Titled "Handheld Worcester," the initiative involves a virtual tour of Worcester that students, but also faculty and staff, can follow on their devices to celebrate the city's public art, architecture and monuments. It includes a story map that can be explored on the website, as well as an option to subscribe to weekly emails that share additional information on the sites featured on the map and links to civic engagement activities that students can do to learn more about and feel connected to the Worcester community, from wherever they are.

"It provides a depth to their engagement with the city," says Isabelle Jenkins, associate director of the Donelan Office of Community-Based Learning at the College. "During a semester of remote learning, this seems especially important, but will also prove a useful guide to the area when students are on campus in the spring."

Along with Jenkins, Handheld Worcester was developed by Sue Hunt, associate director of government and community relations, with support from Mary Conley, professor of history and director of Scholarship in Action, and Kathryn Hauver '22.

Hauver, a sociology major at the College, acknowledged that "it's pretty easy to stay within the bubble of Holy Cross… but people get pretty excited to become engaged with Worcester, especially when they see how cool it is."

Handheld Worcester is part of the larger Civitas initiative, which began as a 5-week educational Leadership Institute over the summer, and since then has expanded to connect Holy Cross students with virtual volunteering opportunities in Worcester and provide resources for those who want to engage in a deeper exploration of social justice. 

To read the full article, go to Telegram.com. You can sign up for weekly emails on the Handheld Worcester webpage.