While many students chose to go home or on a vacation during the recent spring break, two groups of Upper Iowa University students embarked on a pair of Alternative Spring Break service trips.
As part of this year’s volunteer effort, 20 UIU students and four advisors helped residents of New Orleans, La., and other community members living near San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Since 2000, teams of UIU students and their chaperones are placed in communities to engage in positive social action and education as part of the University’s ASB program.
“Alternative Spring Break trips allow for students to get out of their comfort zones and have learning experiences they may never have in a classroom environment,” said Amy Tucker, UIU director of academic success and ASB trip advisor. “Students get to learn about and experience a different culture and make a positive impact by volunteering their time.”
Volunteering in New Orleans
Ten UIU students and two advisors served New Orleans in a variety of capacities during this year’s ASB. Initially, the small band of volunteers helped members of St. Paul’s Lutheran K-8 School clean and organize supply closets and assisted teachers in the classroom. The group later served ARC of the Greater New Orleans. ARC collects and recycles beads and parade souvenirs in an effort to further clean the streets of New Orleans. The team partnered with the company to recycle, sort and repackage the collected beads into like-groups.
The next day, the Peacocks worked with Love In Action Outreach, a monthly food distribution center, to distribute groceries to people living in poverty. In addition to interacting with the community members, the Upper Iowa students listened to first-hand accounts of the damage caused during the recent hurricanes that have struck Louisiana.
In ending the week’s volunteer effort, the group worked to organize and redecorate a new library at Kipp Believe Primary (K-4) School. In addition to the service work, the UIU group visited various cultural sites of New Orleans and explored the National WWII Museum.
UIU trip advisors Paige Dietel and Jake Bass accompanied the following students to New Orleans: Jacob Baumhover, Dubuque, Iowa; Alexis Lloyd, Cannon Falls, Minn.; Leif Nedweski, Kenosha, Wis.; Ashley Beringer, Worthington, Iowa; Allie Stoppelmoor, West Des Moines, Iowa; Pei Fenn Tan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Ee Vonne Choong, Selangor, Malaysia; Lauren Wombles, Bloomington, Ill.; Krystin Noe, Newton, Iowa; Nathan Hertel, Fayette, Iowa.
Puerto Rico Good Samaritans
Upper Iowa students participating in the Good Samaritan trip to Puerto Rico were Bet Bofill, Barcelona, Spain; Luke Kloft, Dubuque, Iowa; Andrew Robertson, Manchester, Iowa; Signey Hilby, Asbury, Iowa; Gabbie Mohs, Fredericksburg, Iowa; Christian Kirwan, New Windsor, Ill.; Morgan Shearer, Mondamin, Iowa; Madie Corkery, Rowley, Iowa; Vanessa Westen, Washington, Iowa; Ashten Wolff, Oelwein, Iowa. Trip advisors were Daryl Grove and Amy Tucker.
The UIU team first assisted Habitat for Humanity of Puerto Rico in preparing a home for a domestic violence survivor. The group worked hard to clean up the surrounding yard as well as pull up all of the old tile located in the house.
The group also had the opportunity to work in El Yunque, Puerto Rico’s magnificent rainforest. Students helped with tasks such as collecting plants to be transplanted and painting nearby fire hydrants. Later, the volunteers served the National Historic Sites of San Juan. They cleaned various areas of forts Castillo San Cristobal and El Morro in preparation of an educational event for children.
Tucker noted that as in past years, the 2016 ASB trips were a reflection upon UIU’s mission to provide service and learning to students. The accomplished goals ranged from increasing cultural awareness, to bringing academic learning to life and creating a life-long service ethic.