Elizabeth Bonham, staff writer
This spring break, the Service Learning Office sponsored six break trips, that included over 50 students who earned more than 1500 combined hours. The six groups ventured to War, W.Va., Congaree National Park, S.C., Koinonia Farms, Ga., INSULATE! right here in Buncombe County, Pine Ridge Reservation, S.D., and Kentucky.
The War, W.Va., trip consisted of seven WWC community members doing home building in conjunction with Big Creek People in Action. The trip was led by junior Farid Quraishi, and on it students spent time in an impoverished West Virginia community remodeling and reconstructing residential houses. Among other tasks, they worked in homes without decent physical structure, insulation, sewage or safe water, spackling, hammering, and doing hands on improvement.
Another, larger group went to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The ten Pine Ridge students were led by WWC Chaplain Steve Runholt, three other staff members and three members of the Colorado-based Conscious Alliance. Beyond learning by immersion the traditions of the Lakota Indians, the trippers worked on houses and landscape building in the community. In helping to build and know the Lakota community, members of the WWC community also learned of their efforts at economic sustainability through renewable energy use.
Far from South Dakota, a third break trip went to the mountains of Kentucky, where students worked on home builds in communities wrecked by the extraction of their native mountains by the coal mining industry. Under the supervision of SLO staff member Michele Osmer, students constructed affordable housing in the area.
Sophomore Carlos Lara of the SLO said of the trip, “I built a house in less then a week. Hell yeah.”
In a similar project, a little closer to home, INSULATE! brought another group of WWC break trippers to reinforce housing in the Asheville-Buncombe County area. Two staff members and nine students worked on five homes in the area with the intention of weatherizing them. During their project, they added another layer of service learning and lived in a totally sustainable lifestyle as they worked.
Apart from building houses, two additional groups went to Congaree National Forest and Koinonia Farms to work and and learn in the outdoors.
At Congaree, students worked in the forest doing trail maintenance and trash pickup. A much larger group, led by ANTC RD Mornin Townsend, students worked on the trails, camped in the forest, went canoeing, and had campfires by night.
Last, but not least, a group of eleven students and two staff members sponsored by the Spiritual Life office went to work at Koinonia Farms in Americus, GA. Participants in the trip donated livestock, labor, and food to Koinonia, a Christian intentional living community. While helping the community members on their farm, garden, and shop, the break trippers learned about permaculture, Christian spirituality, and the ethos of a communalistic lifestyle.
More information can be found about the specific break trips from an inside view on blogs for individual trips on the inside page. From April 17-26 in Sage Café there will be an informational photography exhibit about all of the trips as well.