Students choose ‘Alternative Spring Break’ to help with Hurricane Relief efforts
Hurricane Harvey has passed, but the damages left in its path are still around. Harvey impacted thousands of lives in Texas, leaving residents homeless and some without their businesses to sustain their livelihoods.
To assist with recovery efforts, Texas A&M University-San Antonio’s Mays Center for Experiential Learning & Community Engagement selected eight Jaguars to help rebuild homes destroyed in Beaumont, Texas over spring break, March 12-15.
The “Hurricane Harvey Relief: Alternative Break” is an opportunity to build a stronger Texas one day at a time, organizers say. Students submit a $50 fee and receive four days and nights of transportation, meals, lodging. Project materials are provided by the event’s sponsor, Community Collaborations International for the trip. The organization will depart from the university the evening of March 11.
Christina Guerra, Mays Center’s Civic Engagement Coordinator, said the students will be well prepared prior to the trip.
“The participants will meet three times prior to the program to encourage team building and establish safety/work guidelines. While the volunteering itself will be the main feature of this program, deep reflection and processing of the experience will be explored and encouraged,” Guerra said in an email.
“The three meetings before will be to gauge where the students are coming from, what they expect to gain from the program, and what hesitations they may have about the work to come. We would like to face these issues head on and help them grow in strength and leadership,” she added.
During the Spring 2018 Convocation speech, university President Cynthia Teniente-Matson, recognized the donations of school supplies students, faculty, and staff made last year for elementary level students affected by the floods in the Gulf Coast.
“Nothing we did last Fall had a greater humanitarian impact than our efforts to aid the victims of Hurricane Harvey,” Matson said in her speech. “Acts of compassion and selfless service like these…speak volumes about the people we have here at A&M-San Antonio.”
In addition to donations made by Texas A&M last year, students who will volunteer during the Hurricane Harvey trip could expect to get hands-on experience and learn how community service helps those in need.
According to the Mays Center website, their philosophy of experiential learning demonstrates that students learn best by doing. Guerra said students will learn the value of teamwork during their experience.
“The students will learn about persevering as a team in difficult experiences. They will learn to step outside their comfort zones and embrace new skills and help from others,” Guerra said. “They will also interact with the people they are helping and have a better understanding of why it is essential to help your fellow man/woman after disasters such as this.”
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