Serving as travel leaders

During spring break 2014, many SMU faculty members are using their time off to lead trips that emphasize service to communities around the United States, teach students and others about issues such as civil rights and human rights, and help groups experience the great outdoors. Trips during the March 8-16 break include:

SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage

This year marks the 10th Anniversary of the SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage.  The eight-day bus journey takes students, faculty and staff to visit the American South’s civil rights landmarks and leaders in the movement. The group’s stops include Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas; the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama; Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where Dr. Martin Luther King served as pastor; the campus of Ole Miss in Oxford; and the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Dr. King was assassinated.

“In the course of our journey, we meet numerous ‘keepers of history,’ including the former leaders of the bus boycott and voting rights marches,” says political science Associate Professor Dennis Simon, who with Ray Jordan, leads the pilgrimage which is sponsored by SMU’s Chaplain’s Office. “These are people whose lives and stories give life – in the here and now – to what we read and see in our study of the civil rights movement. Their character, faith and willingness to share their experiences help us understand the inner strength required to kill Jim Crow.”

University Honors Program in Virginia

Students in the Honors history class “The Founding Fathers and Slavery” will be immersed in colonial Virginia during spring break. Highlights of the trip include visits to Alexandria, Colonial Williamsburg, Washington, Charlottesville and the plantations of George Washington (Mount Vernon), Thomas Jefferson (Monticello), and James Madison (Montpelier).

University Honors Program director David Doyle, who is leading the course with program associate director Sally Spaniolo, says the students have been investigating the greatest puzzle in American history: the contrast between the Declaration of Independence, with the subsequent Constitution, and the vibrant institution of slavery in the era of the American Revolution. “The trip allows the students to get closer to the experience of the Revolutionary generation — to become absorbed in their atmosphere, in their world. Building on the strength of SMU’s close faculty and student interaction, this class and its trip will add a greater depth the semester of reading, writing, and discussions that we have all engaged in,” Doyle says.

Embrey Human Rights Program in France

Eighteen students, faculty and staff from SMU and Dallas are traveling to France to study the role that country played in the Holocaust, when Nazi-occupied France deported 76,000 Jews to be murdered in or en route to extermination camps. The group will visit the site of the Vélodrome d’Hiver in Paris, where on July 16, 1942, several thousand men, women and children were rounded up and transported east to the Auschwitz extermination camp in Poland. Among other places, the group also will see the Drancy transit camp, Oradour-Sur-Glane (a burned-out village where 642 of its inhabitants, including women and children, were massacred by a German Waffen-SS company) and the Natzwiller/Struthof concentration camp near Strasbourg.

“We will look at what happened in France during those dark years (1940-1944), and study what France has done since the war to come to grips with its role as a collaborator in the annihilation of its Jews,” says Rick Halperin, director of SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program, which is sponsoring the trip.

STEMPREP Project at SMU in Puerto Rico

Thirty-five SMU science and engineering students are spending spring break in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where they are attending the Minority Trainee Research Forum. Students will present 15-minute research presentations at the scientific meeting. Participants are members of the STEMPREP Project at SMU, a mentorship and internship program for minority students interested in S.T.E.M, medicine and biomedical research careers. The trip is led by Charles Knibb and Moses Williams, research professors of teaching and learning at the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

Perkins School of Theology in El Salvador

Dr. Harold J. Recinos, Professor of Church and Society at Perkins School of Theology, is leading his class of 14 students to the Central American country of El Salvador. The group will examine Christian mission in cultural context as part of Perkins’ Global Theological Education program. This immersion experience will enable students to engage in a sustained theological and ethical reflection upon the meaning of mission and education in Salvadoran society. The course includes meetings in various location in the country with leaders of popular political organizations, schools, women’s organizations, ecumenical associations, the base Christian communities, and political leaders.

Perkins student  Lael C Melville, PsyD, a 2016 M.Div. candidate and president of the Perkins Black Seminarian Association, will post regular installments on her “Following the Passion of the Cross to El Salvador” blog, as well as on the SMU Adventures blog.

Perkins School of Theology Faculty Immersion in Cuba

Dr. Carlos F. Cardoza-Orlandi, Professor of Global Christianities and Mission Studies at Perkins School of Theology, is leading the Spring 2014 faculty immersion trip to Cuba. Nine participants will examine the history of Cuba, its religious and cultural sources, and will visit Christian communities including the Seminario Evangélico de Teología de Matanzas.

Alternative Breaks

SMU has participated in Alternative Spring Break for 27 years, with students serving community organizations while learning about issues such as the environment, poverty, public health and education. In partnership with the Community Engagement & Leadership Center, students, faculty and staff this year are traveling to:

  • New York City, to prepare and serve food to people with serious illnesses such as HIV/AIDS and cancer in partnership with God’s Love We Deliver;
  • Indianapolis, to work with a community farm in a low-income neighborhood called Global Peace Initiatives;
  • Taos, New Mexico, where one group will work with children at Roots and Wings Community School, and another group will work at Stray Hearts Animal Shelter;
  • New Orleans, in collaboration with the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, to build homes for people affected by Hurricane Katrina;
  • Kimberton, Pennsylvania, to work on a farm and assist with indoor workshops for adults with special needs;
  • Selma, Alabama, to focus on civil rights and youth development with Freedom Foundation;
  • Memphis, Tennessee, to partner with Living Lands and Waters in removing debris from the Mississippi River;
  • St. Louis, to volunteer at shelters that provide temporary care for young children to help prevent abuse and neglect;
  • Springfield, Missouri, to partner with the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks in improving water resources;
  • San Francisco, to work at Quesada Gardens, a local community garden that focuses on sustainability.

Outdoor Adventures

As part of the Outdoor Adventures program at Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports, students and staff will spend a week canoeing Arkansas’ Buffalo National River and hiking in the Ozarks. Their goal is to unwind, get rejuvenated and experience the beauty of Arkansas.

Follow Outdoor Adventures on their blog.