It’s spring break, time for sun
and service for Manchester students
Two groups of Manchester College students are spending their spring break in the sun, but are donning work gloves with their sunscreen. In addition to the College’s traditional Habitat for Humanity construction trip to a southern state, Manchester students also are headed to Arkansas to simulate life in poverty.
At Heifer International, the students are living in homes common to Guatemala, Zambia, Tibet, Thailand, Appalachia, an urban slum and a refugee camp. They are trading labor, bartering for food and figuring out other ways to acquire their meals. They are learning about the unequal distribution of resources across the globe.
“This isn't a spring break on a beach or by the pool. This is a way to continue learning outside of the classroom in an exciting new setting,” says Zach Washington, peace studies intern and 2011 graduate of the College. “This is a service trip to a working ranch, but at the same time there are simulations of how those in poverty live.”
The “Alternative Break” is offered by Heifer International, which has helped more than 8.5 million people in more than 50 countries with gifts of livestock, sustainable sources of food and training.
Manchester College has a long history with Heifer Project, founded by 1917 graduate Dan West. He envisioned combatting post-World War II poverty overseas not just with gifts of milk and other perishable food, but with sustainable gifts of young cows (heifers) and other livestock.
Manchester also has a long history with Habitat for Humanity, sending home-building groups to 13 states since 1986. This spring, they are headed again to Meridian, Miss., to finish the interior of a home for a low-income family, said Professor Brad Yoder, who teaches sociology and social work for the College and has led 24 of the 26 Habitat trips.
Yoder says the annual spring trip for Habitat is always a highlight for his year. “It’s inspiring to work with young students who are willing to invest their spring break time to help disadvantaged families.” He adds that the new homeowners are always grateful for all of the hard work put forth by the students.
Service is part of the Manchester College mission. Last year, MC students contributed 35,000 hours of service to their communities, churches and College. To read more about volunteerism at Manchester, including the College's participation in The President's Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, visit the website of the Center for Service Opportunities.
Manchester's spring break is March 17-25; students return to their “regular” classrooms March 26.