College students nationwide are choosing to spend spring break in service to others. Among them, nearly 60 Concordia University student leaders, faculty and staff are volunteering in around the U.S.
Helping communities in need through service learning experiences for students is an important part of the Lutheran university’s mission to prepare leaders for the transformation of society.
To keep up with student demand for spring break service opportunities, Concordia University’s Alternative Break Leadership Experience added two service locations this year: Atlanta and Seattle, in addition to organizing return trips to San Francisco, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and New Orleans.
“It takes a special type of person to spend their entire spring break serving others, but many students are choosing this option. They’re driven by an intense love for humanity and for giving back, and they are willing to get out of their comfort zone,” said Kayla Suvak, a Junior English major at Concordia and Social Change Coordinator for the New Orleans Alternative Break.
CU’s Alternative Break Leadership Experiences began in 2008 and are organized through the university’s Office of Service Leadership. The experiences provide opportunities for college students to engage in immersive service experiences outside the campus community and to learn more about social issues affecting today's society, such as urban poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, and disaster relief.
Concordia’s Alternative Spring Break Leadership trips include:
- New Orleans, La.: May 22-29, Seventh consecutive trip working with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for Hurricane Katrina victims
- San Francisco, Calif.: May 22-29, Fourth consecutive trip, this year working in the Tenderloin District with San Francisco City Impact
- NEW - Seattle, Wash.: May 22-29, First year to partner with local organizations working to address homelessness, hunger, and youth poverty Summer Break trips being offered, include:
- NEW - Atlanta, Ga.: April 27-May 3, First year working with Lutheran Services of Georgia to assist America’s highest population of refugee families and individuals
- Port-Au-Prince, Haiti: May 3-10, Second year working with Forward Edge and Grace Village, Haitian-based organizations serving various community needs
“Concordia students return from their experiences having developed high levels of cultural competency, built strong connections of empathy for the populations we serve, and tangibly seeing the impact of their service experiences,” said Scott Ferguson, Director of Service Learning and Multicultural Services at Concordia. “Service learning is a requirement because it’s exactly the kind of perspective you can’t get in a classroom.”
Concordia students, faculty and staff contribute approximately 15,000 hours of service on these trips, part of the nearly 30,000 hours of service learning completed each academic year. This year, students raised more than $20,000 toward trip expenses, including $3,000 from local businesses and community members.
Contributions to help fund the service trips are being accepted at http://www.cu-portland.edu/campus-life/office-service-leadership.