Wren Fiocco, a third-year student at Oberlin College majoring in Environmental Studies and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, is a student leader committed to building meaningful relationships between Oberlin College and Lorain County. Wren is an active member of the El Centro Volunteer Initiative (ECVI), a student-led organization rooted in principles of collaboration and sustainability. ECVI partners with El Centro, a leading social services agency located 14 miles north of Oberlin in the City of Lorain, to offer citizenship test preparation classes and English language classes. Wren serves as a member of the ECVI leadership board and is the head coordinator for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes. Wren leads a group of 15 Oberlin College students who teach a weekly ESOL course at El Centro while simultaneously supporting the initiative's strategic planning efforts.
To me, civics is about community engagement, and one of the most amazing parts of my experience at Oberlin has been the opportunities I have had to connect with communities in Oberlin and Northeast Ohio. During my first year at Oberlin, I got involved with a handful of students that had started teaching citizenship and ESOL classes at El Centro, a non-profit that serves primarily Latinx people. These classes, which we have now turned into a student organization called El Centro Volunteer Initiative, provide a space where students can engage with the community outside of the bubble of campus and build meaningful relationships. I often feel that I learn just as much outside of the classroom, in my work at El Centro and in other parts of the community, as I do inside of the classroom, and am inspired by the ways in which people come together to create change as a community. For me, community service work is a way of using the privileges that I have to collaborate with others to address inequities, and has been one of the most meaningful parts of my time in Oberlin.