Hsia Sisters Explore Passion for Service

A result of family upbringing, Maddie Hsia ’23 and Sarah Hsia ’25 enact change

Both Maddie and Sarah maintain their passion for service by remaining involved in various communities. Over winter break, Maddie volunteered with Alight, at organization that helps to resettle Afghan refugees. She explained, “we had a bunch of different events that I ended up going to, including a figure skating event to teach Afghan youth how to skate … It was hard for them because they kept falling, but really heartwarming to see that they were laughing.” Sarah attended events at Everymeal and Feed my Starving Children. In the future, she hopes to continue to volunteer with those organizations and branch out to discover new ways to help.

Mackenzie Higgins, Online Editor

From leading the Hunger Committee and Community Service Board (CSB) Leadership Committee, to volunteering at Learning in Style School, Every Meal, and Feed My Starving Children, Maddie ‘23 and Sarah Hsia ‘25 have dedicated copious amounts of their time to service learning over the years. 

Both sisters cite their upbringing as motivation to pursue service. Sarah explains, “Growing up, my parents, my mom in particular, really reinforced the idea of giving back to the community and helping those that are less fortunate than us.” Maddie agrees, adding, “My family loves to volunteer. If I’m volunteering, they’re also likely volunteering.”

One organization that Maddie has spent a lot of time with is Learning in Style School, which teaches adult immigrants and refugees English. Her initial interest was sparked by a personal connection to the work they do, she explains,“The main driving factor behind [my interest in Learning in Style] is that all four of my grandparents were immigrants. They were given chances to succeed in the U.S., and I want to help other immigrants succeed.” Maddie continues, “There’s kind of a family aspect to it. My family experienced [immigrating to the U.S.] and now I want to pay it forward for other families coming to Minnesota.”

Taking after her sister, Sarah works with Learning in Style School as well. “I started getting into Learning in Style because of [Maddie]. She got to know the organization before I did, so I kind of went with her for that,” she notes.

Apr. 2022. Maddie and fellow CSB members decorated the Blake Dining Commons with collages made on Legacy Day for the upcoming Iftar dinner organzied by Alight in partnership with Blake. The event drew in over 150 familles to break their fast. (Submitted by: Lisa Sackreiter )

Their roles at Learning in Style have varied, Maddie describes, “This past summer, I was doing some office work and organization for them.” Sarah adds, “During [COVID-19], I worked in their food shelf, which provided food and other necessities for their students. I also worked in the classrooms with them, tutoring their adult, immigrant students.” Sarah explains her favorite part of the service she does is “the relationships and connections I build. For Learning in Style, I get to know the students and some of the teachers… It’s fun to get to know more people that are like-minded.”

Within the Blake community, the sisters are also very active in service. As a member of the CSB Leadership Committee, Maddie explains she’s “currently [working on] a lot of CSB stuff…in the next few weeks, we’ll be going over fundraising applications, which it’s always fun to see how creative committees can get and what they’re interested in doing.” She continues, “Using that creativity to do something good and to help the community is really cool to see.” Sarah is a Co-Chair of the Hunger Committee which entails “[working] with our partner organization Every Meal and [doing] packing events and other fundraisers.” 

A goal of Sarah’s for the Hunger Committee is “spreading more awareness about the issues we focus on like food insecurity, and how prevalent it is in Minnesota.” 

Sept. 30, 2022. Sarah interviews a staff member from Every Meal on Legacy Day. Included in the service work that day was packing fortified oatmeal which was then distributed to local children in need via Every Meal. (Submitted by: Lisa Sackreiter)

While Maddie’s time with CSB is coming to a close, after graduation she hopes to “continue to engage in community service,” adding, “because I think wherever you are, it’s important to give back to the community.”

Feb. 2022. Maddie and Sarah worked with Alight, an organization helping to resettle refugees in the Twin Cities community. They helped to set up an apartment for an Afghan family new to Minnesota by moving furniture, stocking supplies, and making beds. (Submitted by: Lisa Sackreiter)

The sisters’ dedication to service certainly does not go unnoticed by the Blake community. Daphne Dresner ‘24, another member of the CSB Leadership Committee explains, “They’re really good at coming up with ideas, they’re both full participants in everything they do for causes they genuinely care about.” Taara Verma ‘24, a fellow Co-Chair of the Hunger Committee, agrees saying, “This speaks to both of them, but they [have such good] initiative. [They] bring up new ideas and make sure things are planned.” Verma continues, “Anytime there’s some sort of volunteer spot that needs to be filled, one of them is always the first to sign up.”

May 2021. A then-chair of Hunger Committee, Maddie organized an online cooking class with Chef John Sigimura and Taher staff. Participants made Gyoza from their kitchens and donated to Every Meal via ticket sales. (Submitted by: Lisa Sackreiter)

 For anyone interested in getting involved with service, Sarah recommends joining CSB and talking to [Lisa] Sackreiter. “She has a lot of good opportunities, she is really knowledgeable, and she has connections with a lot of different places that are great to start volunteering at.”