From Nicaragua to Baltimore, spring break trips focus on service learning

Groups of Gettysburg College students will devote their spring break to experiencing the realities of middle-school education in urban Baltimore, honing their leadership skills in Arizona's rugged Dragoon Mountains, and learning firsthand about life in Leon, Nicaragua.

As their journeys unfold, all three groups will post photos and written reflections on the Gettysburg College website.

Baltimore blog

Arizona blog

Nicaragua blog

Baltimore: From teaching after-school programs to shadowing individual middle-school students, participants will spend a week testing "our assumptions about what is right with urban education, what is wrong, and how to fix it," said Carol Rinke, a professor in Gettysburg's education department.

The trip, part of this year's I.W. Foundation Public Policy Seminar, complements classroom study of historical, economic and cultural aspects of urban education as well as school reform models. Plans include visits to  schools and a panel discussion with urban teachers. Rinke also hopes students will form lasting relationships with the Baltimore middle-schoolers they meet, many of whom will visit the Gettysburg campus in late March.

Students will also volunteer at a women's shelter and a hot meal program, take part in a city-wide scavenger hunt to learn more about Baltimore, and stay at a hostel in the city. The seminar is part of the College's Interdisciplinary Studies Program.

Arizona: The trip is the College's 14th annual Wilderness Institute. Plans include intensive rock-climbing and other outdoor activities in the Coronado National Forest's Cochise Stronghold, once the refuge of the great Apache chief and his people.

The institute is a program of the Gettysburg Recreational Adventure Board, which prepares students to lead wilderness and leadership development trips for the campus community and alumni. Students receive 400 hours of training and field experience annually to facilitate climbing, sea kayaking, backpacking, and challenge course experiences as part of the College's experiential education program.

Nicaragua: The trip will focus on the global economic crisis, agriculture, neighborhood projects, women’s empowerment programs, eco-tourism, the arts, and Nicaraguan government initiatives.

Fourteen students will live with Nicaraguan families and take part in projects of Project Gettysburg-Leon, including visits to a an organic coffee-growing cooperative and a neighborhood school where young artists  teach traditional techniques of primitivista art, dancing, and music.

Ruth Cortes de Jesus, associate dean of the College's Intercultural Resource Center, will lead the trip, which is sponsored by the College's Center for Public Service.

Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences. With a student body of approximately 2,500, it is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania. The college was founded in 1832.

Contact: Jim Hale, online content editor

Posted: Fri, 6 Mar 2009

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