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Spring break's global classroom

April 10, 2013

Spring break's global classroom

April 10, 2013

While it’s great to get away from campus and take a breather from classes and dorm life, Skidmore’s spring break is much more than that. For plenty of students, it’s also time to enhance classroom learning, serve society, and forge new friendships.

Mike Chen ’14 and 11 others participated in a 10-day travel seminar, Ireland: Culture and Commerce, led by business professor Jim Kennelly and social work lecturer Peter McCarthy. Dublin, Belfast, and Great Blasket Island are on the itinerary. Chen says he’s looking forward to “exposing myself to a new environment and enhancing my ability to adapt to the global nature of our world.” For her part, Rebecca Shesser ’15 put forth a few personal goals in her travel blog:

  • Learn as much about Irish tradition and culture as possible.
  • Take some risks everyday (food or experience-related).
  • See a lot of animals.
  • Don’t regret missing out on anything.
  • Have fun.

Closer to home, in the South Bronx, co-president of Skidmore’s Christian Fellowship Anna Hall ’14 and 12 fellow students worked to transform a run-down building into a “center for social transformation,” as well as leading after-school programs for kids. The weeklong New York City Urban Project experience was organized by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

“The NYCUP experience exposes our students to homeless and under-privileged people who need support,” says Michelle Hubbs, Skidmore’s director of community service. “It’s an opportunity for them not only to help others but to engage in personal reflection. It’s also really fun.”

spring break Habitiat
Taking a break during roof work for
Habitat for Humanity

Farther south, in Vero Beach, part of Florida’s Treasure Coast region, trip leaders and Honors Forum members Madeleine Kemp ’15 and Ileana Paules-Bronet ’15 and a group of other Skidmore students participated in the Habitat for Humaniaty Collegiate Challenge. There, they resided on a street of Habitat-built houses, which helped acquaint them first-hand with Habitat’s philosophy. They were also invited to a March 14 Skidmore alumni event in Vero Beach.

Other student trips included the Pre-health Club’s Medlife-sponsored journey to Tena, Ecuador, a rural area, much of it in deep jungle, where six students, including trip organizer Brittany Dingler ’15, provided health services to low-income communities through mobile clinics. It is the third year the club has organized a service-oriented spring-break trip.

A second travel seminar, Tropical Field Ecology in Costa Rica, also took place. Led by biology professor Monica Raveret Richter and environmental studies lecturer Kim Marsella, the seminar offered participants the chance to study model tropical communities in Monteverde with a focus on sustainability. Costa Rica is known for its enlightened environmental policies. A highlight, says Marsella, was an all-day hike in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, followed by dinner at the Monteverde Institute and a lecture on global warming and amphibian extinctions.

Sums up Hubbs, “We are continuing to grow our alternative spring break program to provide experiences for students that will put them in spaces that push them and help them to think more broadly. And for trip leaders, the process of planning and organizing is a great learning experience.”

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