Spring break is usually thought of as a time for students to get away for some fun in the sun. Although some students will indeed take a much-deserved break the week of March 8-12, dozens of Case Western Reserve University students will use their time off to give back to communities both close to home and around the globe.
Several groups or departments are sponsoring alternative spring break trips in which students, staff or faculty members volunteer to help people or organizations in need.
This year's projects are diverse, ranging from construction at an elementary school in Nicaragua to creating a clean water system for a primary school in Thailand to continuing cleanup and rebuilding efforts in New Orleans.
Read more to find out how dozens of campus members plan to help communities in need:
Since January 2006, students, staff and community members associated with the Center for Civic Engagement and Learning (CCEL) have traveled to New Orleans six times to assist with Hurricane Katrina cleanup and rebuilding efforts . Volunteers gut houses, rebuild parks and playgrounds, volunteer at community health clinics, work at schools and assist coordinators at area food banks. This year's group will include nearly 50 students and staff members from Case Western Reserve and Fisk universities (learn more about the Case Western Reserve-Fisk Exchange program). The Cleveland Hillel Foundation and Hillel Builds are also sponsoring an alternative spring break trip to New Orleans to work on community service projects.
CCEL's newest alternative spring break trip is an international service and immersion program in Nicaragua. Thirteen undergraduate students and two staff members will travel to the rural community of Chinandega to work with Waves of Hope, a nonprofit organization. Their main project will be the construction of a kitchen for an elementary school. Angela Lowery, CCEL's student service coordinator, said this will allow children to receive at least one full meal during the school day. The volunteers will also tutor children in English. Lowery said the campus community has responded favorably to this latest project, including funding provided by the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence. "CWRU students have participated in pre-trip sessions to learn about the history and culture of Nicaragua. They are also coordinating fundraising events to raise additional money for the nonprofit's ongoing projects," she explained.
The Case Western Reserve chapter of Engineers Without Borders works with developing communities to design engineering solutions. The group will travel to Piang Luang, Thailand, to provide clean water to a primary school that serves 1,200 students. The eight-member team will gather information and data on the health of the children and the community to assess the type of water supply design needed. The implementation phase is scheduled for August. The student volunteers are Sanchit Goyal , Stephen Fleming, Ken Hornfeck, Marshall Lukacs and Riya Basu. Their faculty adviser is Andrew Rollins, Department of Biomedical Engineering. Lynn Rollins, an adviser, and Tom Bell-Games, a mentor, will also be on the trip. Goyal, a third-year student majoring in electrical engineering, said the choice between a service trip or a getaway to a place like Florida was easy. "An EWB trip is an experience like none other. What could be better than traveling the world while applying your education in ways that can really help people?"
A small group of students will spend spring break right here in Cleveland learning about social justice issues and participating in service activities. The group will spend March 6-10 volunteering at homeless shelters and health clinics, and they will provide street outreach. The volunteers also plan to explore the root causes and possible solutions.
The Global Medical Initiative student group is working with Refugee International on a trip to Sarstun, Guatemala. A group of 14 students will spend the week assisting a surgical team and bringing medical supplies from Medwish.
Information about several other alternative spring break trips is available online.
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