Students, faculty and staff are making the most of Fall Break, October 10-13, to engage in service, travel and learning.
SMU Alternative Breaks, in partnership with the Community Engagement & Leadership Center, is taking 70 students, as well as faculty and staff advisers, to seven locations in Texas, Oklahoma and Florida. Over the course of four days, SMU volunteers are working alongside nonprofit organizations that address issues including hunger, child abuse, homelessness, women’s rights and environmental restoration.
SMU Alternative Breaks took students to serve communities in Costa Rica during Spring Break 2015.
“Alternative Breaks is about making an impact in communities, while providing a transformative experience for participants,” says junior Gloria Yi, one of two student directors of SMU Alternative Breaks. “We want participants to grow during the trips and think about how they fit into the social issue and what they can do to address it. It’s world-changing service, life-changing experience.”
This year’s Alternative Breaks trips are:
- Waco, Texas, where students are working on a farm and learning about sustainable agriculture, environmental responsibility and world hunger issues.
- Hartshorne, Oklahoma, where students are partnering with the nonprofit Rebuilding Together Kiamichi Country to work on critical home repairs for low-income homeowners.
- Austin, where students are assisting children in foster care with homework and will engage in fun activities, in partnership with the organization Helping Hand Home.
- Houston, where students are working at the Women’s Home, a community that helps women in crisis. Another group in Houston is helping build playgrounds with the Collaborative for Children.
- Dallas, where students are serving at three organizations to learn about the complex issue of poverty, including Trinity River Mission, Brighter Bites and Habitat for Humanity.
- Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida, where students are clearing trails and learning about the environment near the Big Cypress Swamp.
Also, on Saturday, October 24, SMU Alternative Breaks is offering its first day trip. Students will assist with food distribution and the children’s program at The Stewpot, a Dallas organization serving the homeless. For more information about this and upcoming Winter Break and Spring Break trips, visit smu.edu/ab.
Follow Alternative Breaks on Instagram @smualternativebreaks, Twitter #SMUAB and Facebook at SMU Alternative Breaks. Students also will blog at smu.edu/Adventures.
Also during Fall Break:
Hilltop on the Hill
Eleven students are traveling to Washington, D.C., with SMU’s Hilltop on the Hill program. The program is led by Rita Kirk, director of the Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility and professor of Communication Studies in Meadows School of the Arts; Stephanie Ann Martin, assistant professor of Communication Studies; and Candy Crespo, assistant director of the Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility and lecturer at the Center for Nonprofit Management.
During the program, students meet with SMU alumni, talk with communication staffers on the Hill, learn from lobbyists about their advocacy functions, assess the role and function of the news media, and investigate the role of political parties as representatives for constituent concerns.
“Through interactions with SMU’s strong D.C. alumni base, students consider the range of communication careers in our nation’s capital,” Kirk says. “That adds a certain immediacy to their studies that sets the bar higher when they return to campus.”
Endowed by the Bauer Foundation, the Hilltop on the Hill program also takes students studying political communication to political party conventions, the presidential Inauguration and the G8 Economic Summit.
Follow Hilltop on the Hill on the SMU blog smu.edu/Adventures.
SMU Outdoor Adventures is taking students to the Matagorda Island Wildlife Management Area near Port O’Connor, Texas. Students will explore the offshore barrier island and bayside marshes on kayaks.
Outdoor Adventures is a leadership development program within the Department of Recreational Sports. Upcoming trips include a day trip to Inner Space Caverns in Georgetown, Texas, and a fall backpacking trip to Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas. Find the full trip and workshop schedule online.
– By Emily Hooper, SMU News