Students Take Advantage of Spring Break Service and Learning Opportunities

Some students use their spring break to soak in the sun. Several Nebraska Wesleyan University students, however, are using the week-long break as another learning and service opportunity.

Sixteen teachers in the Historical Studies Program will travel to Tennessee and Alabama for a civil rights tour.

“The objective of the course is to help them gain a deeper understanding of the Civil Rights Movement and develop resources for teaching their own students about the movement,” said Kevin Bower, Assistant Professor of History. “A secondary objective is to help teachers develop tools for teaching K-12 students to think critically about how history is presented at historic sites and in museum exhibits.”

In preparation for their trip, the teachers — who are master’s degree students —took a course on the Civil Rights Movement and researched museums and events at each of the locations they will visit. The Civil Rights Movement tour will take the teachers through Memphis, Tenn., and Birmingham, Montgomery, and Selma, Ala.

Ten undergraduate students will head to Washington D.C. to engage in service learning and explore cultural neighborhoods.

“The Urban Cultural Immersion Trip is a way to expose members of the university’s student body to worldviews and life experiences that are particular to an urban center,” said the trip’s advisor, Candice Howell, assistant to the provost for student success and diversity. “A service-learning focus to the trip enables students to frame their experience within the larger urban context by taking their macro-level observations of the diversity, inequality, and contradictions of the city and applying them to experiences of individuals.”

After basing the trip in Chicago for the previous five years, Howell said the move to Washington D.C. provides an alternative for students to gain similar experiences.

University Ministries will also lead to group of students to the east coast to New York City for this year’s “Give Me Your Hand” trip. They will work with immigrant and refugee organizations and gain religious cultural competencies.

“My hope is that students will experience opportunities to strengthen their sense of global citizenship and religious cultural competencies,” said University Minister Mara Bailey.

While in New York City, students will attend a seminar by the General Board of Global Ministries, a United Methodist General Board that focuses on global missions and outreach. Students will work with several immigrant and refugee organizations to learn more about the issues associated with immigration and refugee services in the United States today.

“Part of our seminar experience will be an introductory experience in interreligious and intercultural dialogue, which I hope we can bring back to campus,” said Bailey.

This is the fourth year University Ministries has offered the “Give Me Your Hand” trip. Previous service trips have taken students to Denver, New York City, and Washington D.C.

University Ministries’ “Give Me Your Hand” and the Urban Cultural Immersion trip participants will discuss their experiences at the spring semester peace meal on Sunday, April 3 at noon at First United Methodist Church.


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