‘Spring break’ might conjure images of hot sunshine, cool waves and sandy beaches, but not for these students. The University of Colorado Denver Experiential Learning Center (ELC) and Student Life collaborated on a new program to take 21 CU Denver students to Amarillo, Texas, for an Alternative Spring Break to work with Habitat for Humanity.
“The response to this trip was overwhelming,” says Joe Halter, internship advisor at the center. “We filled up quickly and created a waitlist for students even though we stopped our advertising once the group was full.”
While in Texas, the group worked on gutting two existing homes that are no longer occupied. Along with working during the day, the two staff members – Halter from the ELC and Tom Sheridan from Student Life – led a variety of educational activities including readings, discussion and reflection that focused on teambuilding, personal development, causes of poverty and homelessness, social responsibility and the mission and values of Habitat. “We really focused on making this a educational experience for the students,” Halter stressed.
Students got first-hand experience in a culture they might not have experienced previously and interacted with many members of the Amarillo community while serving those in need. Overall, Halter says, the students had very positive things to say about the trip including:
“This trip was an awesome learning experience.”
“It was a lot of fun meeting and getting to know everyone. It was also great to have the opportunity to make Amarillo a strong community.”
“The diversity and values of the people that volunteered to join the trip were a major factor in my ability to enjoy the journey.”
“It was a great opportunity to work with people from many different backgrounds and to serve a domestic issue.”
Students paid $65 each to attend. The rest of the costs were covered between CU Denver Student Life and the Experiential Learning Center. The $65 included food, lodging, transportation, journals, T-shirt, snacks, activities and water bottles.
“We’re definitely planning on doing it again next year!” Halter says. “The students were all pumped at the thought of being able to go again!”