FOCUS First-Year Orientation CommUnity Service

Focus logo

FOCUS is a five-day Pre-Orientation for incoming first-years focused on critical service learning. During FOCUS, you’ll have the opportunity to get to know Tufts, the Greater Boston Area, and your fellow Jumbos all the while creating meaningful relationships with the communities around us.

During FOCUS, you’ll commit to engaging responsibly and actively to support the needs identified by Tuft’s host communities and its representatives. You’ll work in an area of your interest along with a group with other incoming students and two upperclassmen leaders.

If you have any questions please feel free to email us at focus@tufts.edu or check out our Instagram. We hope to see some of you in August!

Service Themes

Food Insecurity

We work with soup kitchens, food banks, and community kitchens to feed and distribute food to those who need it. Past sites have included the Boston Rescue Mission, the Greater Boston Food Bank, and Community Servings.

Homelessness

We work in homeless shelters and help out with the day-to-day work. This may include sorting clothes, making beds, and preparing for meals. Past sites have included halfway houses, food pantries, the St. Francis house, and the Pine Street Inn.

Environment

We do hands-on work to help keep Boston green and beautiful. Often, these groups work in parks such as the Boston Esplanade and on the Mystic Watershed. Weather permitting, your group will spend much of its time outdoors.

Youth Advocacy

We work with organizations that benefit children throughout Boston through community and educational development. Past groups have worked with organizations like Cradles to Crayons, which helps Boston-area children get the school supplies they need.

Giving Camp

Our special needs group, Giving Camp, runs special programming for people with special needs for five days. This intensive experience includes training and has been described as exceptionally rewarding by past participants.

Placemaking

We do the hands-on work of sprucing up the built environment throughout Boston as well as work to support local communities. Projects include community service at local schools and community organizations and the work varies from light construction and environmental maintenance to helping local Somerville teachers prepare for the upcoming school year. Previous organizations have included Youth Build Boston and the Stone Zoo.

Elderly

We work with organizations that focus on the wellbeing of elderly citizens in locations like the Somerville Home. Past sites include Medford Council on Aging and The Community Family. If you’re a people-person, you have the skills we’re looking for.

LGBTQ+ Advocacy

We work with local organizations that advocate for the local LGBTQ+ community. In the past, we’ve worked with the AIDS Action Committee, MassEquality, and Black and Pink.  

Arts Advocacy

We work with local artists and arts organizations that strive to build community through the arts and social justice. Past sites include Boston Children's Theatre, Ethnic Arts Center, and the Cambridge Art Association.

Racial Justice Advocacy

The Racial Justice Advocacy group works with community organizations in the Boston area working to provide people of color with dedicated services such as youth groups and senior centers. Past sites have included the Medford Diversity Office, The City School, and The Welcome Project.

2022 Student Coordinators

Christopher Shi

Christopher Shi, 2024

Chris Shi is from Queens, NY, and he is currently a sophomore majoring in biochemistry and minoring in studio art. He's been involved with FOCUS as both a first-year student and a support staff and now cannot wait to welcome new Jumbos as a coordinator! Outside of classes, some things Chris is involved with are the Tufts SHR (Tufts Sex Health Reps), tutoring, and lab research. In his free time, you can catch him playing basketball, doing the NYT crossword, or doodling in his notebook. His favorite things about Tufts are the nice people and the campus during the spring. 

Claire Ellis

Claire Ellis, 2024

Claire is a sophomore from Montclair, NJ, studying history and international relations. Outside of classes and work, she co-hosts a WMFO radio show with two other friends. In her free time, she loves to explore restaurants in Boston with friends, go to the gym, and spend time outside when it's warm. She participated in FOCUS as an incoming first-year student and is so excited to help build an amazing program for this summer!

Matthew Ung

Matthew Ung, 2024

Matt Ung is from Orange County, California, and he is currently a sophomore majoring in Computer Science. He became interested in FOCUS as first-year student and continued his involvement as support staff. He is now eager to welcome incoming Jumbos as a FOCUS coordinator! Outside of classes, some things Matt belongs to are his role as a peer leader for the Tufts Asian American Center and a developer for JumboCode. Additionally, he is a teaching assistant for the Tufts EECS department along with MIT's Seed Academy. In his free time, you can catch him running around campus, relaxing on prez lawn, or sticking in dewick for hours doing work. His favorite things about Tufts are the DSDI identity centers and the very New England brick architecture!!

Program Advisor

Calvin Zhao

Student Programs Administrator- Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life

Calvin is the Student Programs Administrator at Tufts’ Tisch College of Civic Life. In his role, he directs the Leadership for Social Change program, advises FOCUS and Tisch-affiliated student groups, and manages the Tisch Fund for Civic Engagement among other responsibilities. Prior to assuming this role, Calvin coordinated the Tufts 1+4 and Tufts Civic Semester global programs at Tisch, supporting students as they engaged in community-based work abroad. Calvin also worked for 3 years at NYU Shanghai, a sino-US joint venture university in Shanghai, China, involved in various student support and community engagement roles. Outside of work, Calvin is busy pursuing his MA in Diversity and Inclusion Leadership at Tufts and spending time outdoors, when he can!

Schedule

Program Dates: August 26 - August 30

A Typical Day of FOCUS

An example on what we might do on any given day based on past years’ programs

Time Activity
7 a.m. - 8 a.m. Wake up, have breakfast, pack lunch
8 a.m. - 9 a.m. Travel to first site
9 a.m. - 12 p.m. First volunteering site
12 p.m. - 1 p.m. Lunch
1 p.m. - 4 p.m. Second volunteering site
4 p.m. - 5 p.m.  Travel back to Tufts
5 p.m. - 6 p.m.  Shower in residence halls
6 p.m. - 8 p.m.  Dinner with community
8 p.m. - 11 p.m.  Evening programming

Contact Us

FOCUS
focus@tufts.edu | 617-627-0589

The transition to college was something I very anxiously awaited and I had anticipated a lot of struggle. The peers and friends that I had met during FOCUS allowed me to have the most positive transition. It was such an amazing opportunity to meet future classmates, friends, and upperclassmen. FOCUS being a civic-engagement based Pre-Orientation program teaches incoming students the importance of giving to our community. Life is all about balance and FOCUS reminds us that in order to keep our balance here in our community, we owe it to others to reflect, help out where we can and spread love. I really enjoyed every second of it and recommend FOCUS for all incoming freshmen!

Michael Cox - Class of 2025

FOCUS was such a lovely introduction to civic engagement and the student community at Tufts. My FOCUS dinners my first year were a core part of my experience. The Tisch College community has really pushed me to explore my identity and how I can engage meaningfully with Tufts’ host communities and the greater Boston community.”

Kyrielle Lord, Class of 2024

FOCUS was one of the best ways to start off my college experience, and I’m so glad that I’ve been able to stay involved throughout my time at Tufts! Not only do you get to make amazing new friends and memories as well as become more familiar with the Boston area, you’re able to gain a greater awareness for and start getting engaged in the Medford/Somerville community where we spend so much of our college years.

Ishan Ahuja, Class of 2023

FOCUS was one of the best ways to start off my college experience, and I’m so glad that I’ve been able to stay involved throughout my time at Tufts! Not only do you get to make amazing new friends and memories as well as become more familiar with the Boston area, you’re able to gain a greater awareness for and start getting engaged in the Medford/Somerville community where we spend so much of our college years.

Ishan Ahuja, Class of 2023