2014 SPRING BREAK TRIPS

Nasula: Intercultural Service Learning Experience on the Pine Ridge Reservation - South Dakota

During Spring Break 2014, students will travel to Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota to engage with and learn from the Lakota people. Before embarking on this experience, students will develop an understanding of Lakota narrative concepts from a holistic perspective presented in on-campus workshops. This method facilitates a better understanding of individual personal narrative as well as how personal narratives intertwine with the stories of others. Additionally, students will learn about the complexity of historical marginalization, traumas, and on-going intense financial poverty of the Lakota. Through immersion in Lakota culture while on Pine Ridge, students will learn Lakota lessons related to spirituality, health, and history as well as the resiliency and strength of the human spirit. During this experience students will work to reduce hunger by distributing food on the reservation, in collaboration with Conscious Alliance, a Colorado-based nonprofit. Students will sort and deliver an estimated 20,000 pounds of food for families on the reservation. In addition, students will participate in a number of service activities throughout the week. In the past this has included creating garden beds, trash and litter clean up, and building fences for elders.

Interfaith-a-delphia: Helping and Learning to Love All Your Brothers and Sisters - Philadelphia, PA

On the Interfaith-a-delphia Break trip, students will have the opportunity to explore multiple faith traditions and work with community partners in the inner city of Philadelphia, PA. By partnering with the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia, students will have the opportunity to learn about Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Baha’i, and Islam. The Interfaith Center will provide a customized program for our group, which will include engaging in service opportunities around issues such as homelessness and food security. This trip will provide an opportunity to engage with and learn about different faith traditions, while promoting partnerships between faith communities to address issues within the local community. This trip would be perfect for anyone with an open mind – with openness to deepening their own faith and with openness to exploring other traditions and meeting new people. The goal is to promote spiritual growth and understanding, and to move past a society of tolerance into one of love and acceptance.

Building Peace in War: Constructing Relationships - Big Creek People in Action - War, West Virginia

McDowell County, West Virginia was once a highly populated and wealthy area. It is now one of the poorest counties in the nation. After a series of floods and the receding coal industry, this area is left with myriad of poverty related issues: dilapidated houses, environmental pollution, rampant drug use, and a failing education system among others. Amidst this dreariness, many members of the community have been striving to better the lives of their neighbors. We will be working with some of these inspiring people with the organization Big Creek People in Action. Participants will work with BCPA construction leaders to assist in housing projects – from replacing ceilings to painting. In addition, we will experience different aspects of the area's culture – think bluegrass, flat-footing, and great old Southern tales.

New Beginnings: Immigrant and Refugee Communities - LaGrange, GA and Comer, GA

Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia houses an average of 1,500 inmates, making it one of the largest private facilities for detaining immigrants. The center profits $97,000.00 each day yet has failed to meet Immigration and Customs Enforcements (ICE) medical standards and has failed to provide educational or rehabilitation services offered in other government run facilities. In response to the injustices practiced within Stewart Detention Center, El Refugio and Alterna communities have united Latino immigrant families to support each other and those detained with communal meals, worship services, and visitation services. Our time in these communities will consist of educational trips to learn about the lives of undocumented immigrants living around the Atlanta area, homestays with families in the Alterna community, and visitations with some of the men incarcerated in the Stewart Detention Center.

The second part of the week will take place at Jubilee Partners, an intentional Christian service community that works with refugees in Comer, Georgia. We will learn about the lives of refugees who come to the US with documents.  We will spend time working in the organic garden and/or assisting with childcare, while parents are taking English classes. Overall, we will experience how intentional communities have responded to the needs around them, whether in support of Latino immigrants or refugees.  We will also see the different ways that life unfolds for those who came to this country seeking new beginnings.

Focused Attention: Conservation for the Climbing Community - Red River Gorge - Muir Valley, Kentucky

Each year 40,000 people travel through Muir Valley to climb in one of the most world renowed sport climbing spots in the country-the Red River Gorge, Kentucky . Similar to the past break trips called Shovels and Rope, we are going back to help Rick and Liz Weber(the owners of Muir Valley) and this time with a little more intention. This spring we narrow our focus to recognize that the work we are doing is for the benefit of the climbing community. With so many people traveling through this area to climb, it sees a lot of wear and tear and the least we can do is help patch some of that up and help to prevent further damage in the future. Rock climbing has many life lessons to teach and we will use it as a tool for such, as well as help leverage the importance for service for the climbing community. This is not just a trip for service work, it is an opportunity to become a stronger human through awareness exercises, to work on noticing and breaking out of our habitual tendencies. With support from Friends of Muir Valley, we will be staying at a campground, Land of the Arches, which has amenities such as bathrooms and sinks. You should be prepared to sleep in tents in potentially below freezing weather for the week.

 

2013 FALL BREAK TRIPS

Sowing Altruistic Seeds - Koinonia Farm - Americus, Georgia

Koinonia Farms, founded in 1942 as an intentional Christian agricultural community in rural Georgia, confronted racism, militarism and materialism in a time when confrontation of these social norms was neither expected nor welcomed. Out of Koinonia's mission came the inspiration for Habitat for Humanity, an organization that directly confronts housing needs by assisting low-income individuals and families in building and maintaining affordable housing. The community has continued to thrive while maintaining its original mission of equality. Today Koinonia specializes in the production of chocolate, pecans, peanuts, and fair trade coffee, to support people within and outside of their rural community.

The Koinonia Break Trip will focus on the issue areas of food security and housing and homelessness. We will be working and staying on the Koinonia property, assisting with harvesting their fall crops and working on on-going housing projects, and working with them in any ways they might need. Koinonia strives for an open and interactive community. Therefore, we will participate in their community lunches and optional morning church services. Later on in the week we will spend a day in Atlanta exploring our Break Trip issue areas in a more urban setting.

Student Trip Leaders: Claire Lamberg and Katie Pannier
Faculty/Staff Learning Partner:  Alisa Hove

Wildlife Conservation in Action - Big Cat Rescue - Tampa, Florida

Captive breeding of big cats has occurred in some form for hundreds of years. To date, there are thousands of captive-bred, big cats, owned and bred by private collectors all over the world. In comparison, some species of big cats are critically endangered in the wild due to lack of habitat. These captive carnivores are bred and managed by people with little to no regard for the animals' health or the conservation of the species. The cats are bred and maintained for entertainment, fur and, misguidedly, as pets. Many of these animals end up being found on abandoned properties, under-nourished and over-bred. Since they were raised under such circumstances, they will never be able to be successfully released into the wild.

At the Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida, several species of large cats have been brought in and provided a species-specific, lifelong home. They are not bred and are provided the space, nutrition and enrichment they need and deserve. With this Break Trip, we will learn about the consequences of reckless, irresponsible breeding and learn about the many ways that preserves contribute to global wildlife preservation. At the preserve we will do whatever tasks are needed to benefit the cats. Some examples of volunteer tasks that have been offered in the past are: clearing vines and brush from enclosures, building or dismantling fences, and other light construction tasks.

Student Trip Leaders:  Maggie Small and Cecile Parrish
Faculty/Staff Learning Partner:  Mallory Nuckles

 

2013 Spring Break Trips

Spreading the Mulch: Expanding Access to Farming - Lynchburg, VA

This trip explores urban agriculture and the socio-economic issues surrounding access to green spaces with Lynchburg Grows in Lynchburg, Virginia. Lynchburg Grows is a non-profit organization focused on expanding access of those with special needs to farming, and we will be there to both assist them and learn from them. In an age of growing food insecurity issues and health issues related to conventional agriculture, as well as farm consolidation through the rise of monoculture, Lynchburg Grows focus on taking care of the earth and people at the same time. We will be discussing permaculture, vermaculture, aquaculture, and other innovative approaches to what community supported agriculture means in today's society and how it can be used. We will talk about how practical these are on a wide-scale, and learn how Lynchburg Grows is working with the surrounding community to increase access and awareness. We will also come to understand the role of agriculture in Lynchburg and Virginia, and how we can transfer that knowledge to our home in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Student Trip Leaders: Beau Ohlgren and Charles Williamson

Rally in Raleigh – Sanford, NC

Please join us in Sanford, North Carolina, Lee County, approximately 3 hours from campus to examine the interconnectedness between grassroots service and lobbying to North Carolina Representatives. Saint Luke church in Lee County has graciously donated their space for break trip participants to use during the stay. We will be working with Habitat for Humanity and other service agencies in Lee County. The focal point of this trip is National Association of Social Workers Lobby Day in Raleigh, North Carolina. While attending, students have the opportunity to lobby for the policies they find important. Furthermore students can sit-in on the General Assembly meeting and committee hearings.

Student Trip Leaders: Patrick Downing and Kristen McQuade

Missouri Loves Company…And Conservation! - St. Louis, MO

Join us for a conservation break-trip to the Missouri Ozarks! We'll be travelling to many sites around St. Louis restoring natural prairie, glade, and woodland environments. Prior to European settlement, the Midwest of the United States was a sea of grasses and wildflowers that supported a complex and vibrant ecosystem. The land was degraded by over a century of agriculture and development, but an enthusiastic movement of government workers, private landowners, and volunteers has recently taken on the task of restoring it. On this trip, we will do on-the-ground conservation work. We will also talk to professionals and community members about the challenges of restoring degraded habitat, as well as discussing the accessibility of the conservation movement to diverse groups of people. We will do educational work with children and learn more about engaging youth in conservation. We're also going to be camping and will tour the impressive Cahokia mounds of the ancient Mississippian culture.

Student Trip Leaders: Emily Ehley and Rob Compton

Shovels And Rope Part 2 - Slade, KY

Welcome to Slade, a small town in central Kentucky. There are two gas stations, a pizza joint, The Lil’ Abner Motel and the most magnificent cliffs you’ll ever see. Rock climbers and hikers alike flock from around the world to this incredible geologic area in the Daniel Boone National Forest in the foothills of the Appalachians. The economy relies very heavily on the tourism brought in by places like Natural Bridge State Park and the hundreds of miles of hiking trails in the Red River Gorge. In 2011, Muir Valley, a nature preserve located just next to Slade, had an estimated 35,000 visitors. As a result trails erode, trash piles up, and the signature of humans can be seen everywhere. On this trip, we will work with the Muir Valley landowners to help repair damage done to the land, clear invasive species, and educate ourselves to help spread the word about care and conservation. Our work with the land owners allows them to continue to maintain their land as well as provide free access to climbers and hikers alike.

Trip Leaders: Elias Hinderberger and Ethan Smalley

Living la Vida Local: Agricultural Approaches to Food Security in Buncombe County - Buncombe County, NC

We live in one of the most fertile and bio-diverse regions of the country and are lucky to be surrounded by a bounty of wild edible plants, fresh produce, wild game, pastured raised meats, and wholesome dairy products. However, even with an abundance of natural food, many people in Western North Carolina still experience hunger, food insecurity, and poor nutrition. We will aim to address these issues and their root causes by partnering with community gardens, food-based non-profit organizations, and local farms to understand how we can improve access to local, healthy food in Buncombe county. Join us as we celebrate our local community and build a deeper connection to the the organizations in our very back yard!

Trip Leaders: Garrett Chaffee and Talia Winningham