Southeast Students Put a New Twist on Spring Break



March 14, 2006 – Everyone knows what the typical Spring Break trip holds for college students, but this year, some alternatives are being offered for Southeast Missouri State University students, taking them to new places, bringing experiences they’ll never forget. Spring Break week at Southeast is March 20-24.

Beach ReachMost people would think a trip to Panama City, Fla., sounds fairly common for college students, but this year, several Southeast students are visiting for a different purpose.  Approximately 23 students will be taking part in Beach Reach, a program sponsored by Life Way Christian Resources.  Students going on the trip will join others from universities across the nation to set up a location where Spring Break-ers come in every morning Monday through Thursday for a pancake breakfast.  In the evenings, students will provide a free taxi service for Spring Break-ers who need a sober driver.  Bob Houchins, director of the Baptist Student Union and campus minister, finds the trip to be a wonderful mission.

“Our focus is to show people the reality of God’s love by doing practical things for them,” Houchins said.  “It’s to let them know that somebody does care about you, and God cares about you.”

Houchins says the students enjoy the trip.  They get to meet people from all over the country, having good conversations with them.  He stressed overall that while the trip is a mission, the purpose of the trip is open conversation.

“Everyone goes to Spring Break expecting to meet and talk to people, so it’s easy for students to have conversations,” he said.  “We don’t push anything, but if the opportunity arises to talk about faith and the person is open to it, we will talk about our mission.”

Ministry to Refugees at Mexican BorderCatholic Campus Ministries (CCM) is keeping up its long-time tradition of assisting refugees at La Posada Providencia, a shelter run by the St. Louis-based Catholic Sisters of Divine Providence.  The group of students will be ministering to the needs of refugees who have been released from an Immigration and Naturalization Service Detention Center.  La Posada is a shelter set up to provide room and board for refugees awaiting their hearings in the immigration courts of the southeastern section of the Rio Grande Valley.  Rev. J. Friedel, director and chaplain of CCM and adjunct professor in the Department of Political Science, Philosophy and Religion, says the trip is educational.

“Students will help out with what needs to be done at the shelter,” he said.  “They will have the opportunity to share the stories of the refugees.  Students may help teach basic vocabulary to refugees or do other projects, but we’re primarily taking them to learn about some larger issues.  We look at the legal struggles of the refugees and try to explore the other issues that impact the border region, such as immigration and free trade.  Our goal is to learn and understand.  While we’re down there, we may assist with service projects; however, education is our main purpose.”

Students will visit a local child named Jasmine in a rural community who they have supported over the last year-and-a-half.  They may visit the Holy Family Birth Center, where maternity care is provided to those in need, in exchange for assistance from those who have been helped by the Center in the past.

“I hope that students come back with a greater awareness of social and moral issues than what they typically are challenged to think about,” Friedel said.  “We will look at immigration policy, how we deal with refugees, and many other issues in the border region, and how those issues impact us as citizens of the U.S.”

New Orleans Relief Following the devastation from Hurricane Katrina, several students will be participating in efforts to assist in the clean up of New Orleans over Spring Break.  Denny Lumos, director of the Wesley Foundation and campus minister, directed all students interested in the experience to Kim Holman, student ministries assistant at La Croix Methodist Church in Cape Girardeau.  Holman is helping to facilitate the trip, and says the mission will assist those in New Orleans not only in a physical sense with their homes, but in an emotional sense as well. 

“For many people in New Orleans, it is a sign of hope to have people from around the country volunteer to come and help clean up their communities,” she said.  “La Croix scheduled this mission trip during Southeast’s Spring Break so that students and faculty who have wanted to do something to help after Hurricane Katrina would have a chance to do so.

“We are hoping the college students will see how God can use them to bring hope and light during a dark time in people’s lives,” Holman said.

Amanda Sinclair, assistant professor of Health, Human Performance and Recreation at Southeast, and Sue Stuart, administrative assistant in Field Experiences in the College of Education, are leading the trip.

Habitat for Humanity – North CarolinaThe rebuilding of lives is also the purpose of another Spring Break trip.  One group of students will be traveling to Wilmington, N.C., taking part in a Habitat for Humanity effort to build a house with students from Cornell University.  Students will build the house with the family who will eventually live in the home.  Coordinator for Student Involvement and Leadership Sara Stonewater says the trip will not only make a difference for the family, it will make a difference in students’ lives.

“The purpose of this trip is really two-fold,” she said.  “First, we want students to gain the experience of working with Habitat [for Humanity]and to spend one week focusing on serving others.  The other goal is to take a group of students to a place they may not have visited before.  In all, I hope that these experiences combined will help each student gain a new perspective and help broaden their view.”

Students will keep a daily journal, spending time reflecting on the privileges that are taken for granted each day, and will also be given time to explore the area.

Colorado SkiingWhile many students are looking to shed those extra clothes for some lazy days on the beach, one group has decided to bundle up for some cold weather sports.  A skiing trip in Colorado is the focus of another atypical Spring Break opportunity.  Now in its fifth year of existence, the Spring Break skiing excursion will be lead by Denny Lumos, campus minister and director of the Wesley Foundation.  Ten Southeast students will be traveling to Colorado for four days of skiing.  The underlying purpose for Lumos, he says, is relationship building.

“We really have no planned agenda,” Lumos said.  “The students who have come on this trip have typically been international students in the past, and they are not typically from a Christian background.  The trip gives them an opportunity to have positive experiences with a Christian group.  It’s also something used to introduce students to the campus ministry.  Many times, they’ll get involved after the trip.  For me, it’s a personal mission.”

Students are expected to leave the morning of March 19, ski for four days, and return March 24.

“This lets them have a weekend to recover before classes start,” Lumos laughed.

Grand CanyonFor those interested in an even more rugged adventure, a trip to the Grand Canyon is being led by Eric Redinger, assistant director of outdoor adventureᾰRecreational Sports Department.  Six individuals will participate in a hike to the very bottom of the Grand Canyon, and will camp inside its tropical climate for three nights. 

According to Redinger, the group, which consists of two students, two faculty members and two recreational sports administrators, will be camping at the south rim of the Canyon the first night before hiking into the Canyon.

The trek into the Canyon will take place on Bright Angel Trail, which is about nine miles long.  Participants will stop at the Indian Gardens Campground, which is roughly a halfway point.  Redinger says the adventurers will be taking the easiest way down the trail, which takes somewhat longer; however, those hikers who are up to the challenge may choose a steeper and more scenic route on the way out of the Canyon.  The South Kaibab Trail, Redinger says, is about seven miles long.  While the distance is less, Redinger explains that individuals will move up the Canyon 691 feet per mile, rather than the 461 feet per mile required on the way down Bright Angel Trail.

“The biggest reason we do this is for a fun alternative to the typical idea of Spring Break,” Redinger said.  “We are doing something many people would love to do, and we will see things that most will never see in their life.  It’s such an amazing experience because we’re completely self-sufficient on the trip.”

International Study TripsAs always, the Harrison College of Business is offering a trip overseas for three hours of college credit.  This Spring Break, students will visit London and Paris and all the cities have to offer, including Kensington Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Tower of London, the Eiffel Tower, Du Louvre, and more.  Students will have the opportunity to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and will have plenty of free time to spend sightseeing and shopping.  The trip offers an educational experience with the appeal of credits toward the pursuit of their degrees.