providing unique opportunities
In the spring of 2006, approximately 36,000 students from colleges and universities across the country participated in a spring break experience. Alternative break programs place teams of high school and college students in communities where they provide community service during their spring, summer, fall, winter and even weekend breaks. Students typically perform short term projects for community agencies and learn about issues such as poverty, racism, hunger, literacy, homelessness, the environment and health care.
This March, three groups of Purdue Calumet students will forgo their traditional spring break plans in favor of volunteering. Equipped with little more than some clothes, students will be engaged in service learning projects at three sites.
Locally, students will be working at Haven House, a family advocacy center that provides 24 hour emergency shelter for domestic violence victims and their children. Associate Professor of Hospitality and Tourism Management Judy Hack and Shannon Hamel, Student Affairs Specialist, will lend their expertise in overseeing the work of the students. Lisa Wein, Executive Director of Haven House, is delighted to have the students on site. According to Mrs. Wein, “Students will assist with repair work, organize the pantry, paint some of the interior rooms, reorganize the children’s play room, interact with the children and, if trained, staff the crisis line. I have wanted to engage the students at Purdue University Calumet for a number of years, so I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to collaborate. My staff and I are tremendously appreciative of the help they will provide.”
Wendy St. Jean, Assistant Professor of History, will spend the week with students engaged in a restoration/preservation project at the Forks of the Wabash complex near Fort Wayne. Mike Flannery, Head of the Department of Behavioral Sciences, Tony Gregory, Head of the Department of Construction Science and Organizational Leadership, and Abbas Hill, the Assistant Director for Housing and Residential Education, will lead a group of students to the Third Ward in Houston, heavily damaged by the recent hurricanes.
Chanda Hott, Director of Housing and Residential Education, has previous experience in an alternative spring break program and will accompany the group traveling to Fort Wayne. Chanda stated, “I am excited to see that alternative spring break opportunities are being offered to students at Purdue Calumet. They are unique experiences that afford students the chance to see what life is like for those in different parts of the United States. They also provide opportunities for those who participate to reflect and evaluate their own values and priorities.”
With a minor in Service Learning now available through the Department of Behavioral Sciences in the School of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, these experiences involve coursebased, credit-bearing opportunities for students who choose to participate on a for-credit basis. All students who wish to participate must submit an application and two letters of recommendations. Interviews with members of the planning team took place in December and January. Extensive orientation and training programs as well as reflection journals and discussion are important components of the program.
It is anticipated that 45 students will participate in the inaugural event this spring. Campus-wide fund-raising efforts, donations, Student Service Fee funds, support from Student Affairs, Academic Affairs and the Chancellor’s office are being used to offset the costs associated with travel and room and board. Participants are expected to contribute 25% of the expenses associated with their participation.