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Spring break service connects students to communities


   

Students stand in front of a lake. Virginia Tech students combine spring break with service.


BLACKSBURG, Va., Feb. 5, 2014 – Virginia Tech students interested in a valuable, non-traditional experience may opt for service-oriented spring break trips. 

Service immersion trips are designed to connect students with community members. These hands-on experiences prompt learning about social justice issues, encourage self-understanding, and inspire commitment to future action.

Audrey Semel of Zelienople, Pa., a senior majoring in biology in the College of Science, is leading her first trip with VT Engage this year. She said she's learned more through her interactions with people in service than she has anywhere else.

"We will be going to Cranks, Ky., to work with the Cranks Creek Survival Center," said Semel. "We will have a group of about 15 volunteers. We will be working with our contact at the survival center to help build houses for families in the local community. Our group will be fortunate enough to meet the people we are serving, hear their stories, and experience the Appalachian community we will be immersed in."

Semel said she's interested in bringing students who are excited about service and learning about the incredible culture that surrounds them. The trip will interest students who are passionate about learning from each other while getting their hands dirty and putting their skills to work to benefit others.

"There is something really neat about going somewhere new, and not just looking around, but spending time with the community. The experience is insightful and helps one mature, explore, be filled with passion, and be able to share with others. I have very good vibes for this trip. I just know it will leave me with stories I will be telling for a while," said Semel.

VT Engage will also partner with the nonprofit Community Service Alliance for an international service trip to the Dominican Republic. The international trip will seek an environment that brings together students of diverse meaning-making lenses and traditions. The group will address and learn about an international social issue and foster inclusive dialogue and reflection around service and social justice.

Students who travel to the Dominican Republic will have the opportunity to work with and mentor local youth, participate in community development initiatives, and learn about Dominican culture.

CSA has partnered with VT Engage and the Virginia Tech community for nearly a decade to provide high-quality community-based experiences for students. Based in Santo Domingo, the CSA believes in “empowering local communities in the Dominican Republic to challenge the status quo and improve standards of living.” On this trip, students will have the opportunity to work with CSA on a variety of community development building projects, and facilitate health and education workshops for the community.

Other organizations across campus, including the Newman Community and various fraternities and sororities will also be hosting service trips during spring break. For a full list of applicable events, visit the organization pages at Gobblerconnect.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 225 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $496 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

Written by Drew Knapp.