I had just finished a hectic semester and by the end of spring term I am usually spent. So, why leave my family, of which I am very fond of, and drive for nearly 14 hours in a very overcrowded van?
At the start of the term there was discussion about an upcoming summer trip with a group from Columbia College traveling together to some nice exotic foreign location. Very nice, but also expensive beyond the budgets of what most of my students could afford. Yet there is no denying the value of learning experiences that take students out of their normal routine and into a new environment. Unfortunately foreign travel is increasingly expensive so we looked at domestic alternatives. There is also another issue.
These days lots of people have degrees. What can we do collectively, teachers and students, to ad value to the education our students are receiving? How can we make them stand out above the rest of the crowd? Value added. We assist them in adding experiences, knowledge, and skills over and above what is acquired in the classroom. That was what this trip was all about at first but then another dimension was added.
The students that went with us were able to make a difference - to help others. Not only did I take time off of my summer these students did the same thing. It was not all partying and sightseeing either. This was no luxury cruise. These students we took to Slidell worked hard and long hours as good as any construction crew I have ever seen. I was impressed and proud of them. They performed under hot and dirty conditions beyond my wildest expectations. More than anything they unselfishly showed courage, perseverance, and heart. That is what Human Services majors are about.
But, despite all of that, which is huge, we all encountered something else. We encountered the largeness of the human spirit which when directed in the right direction is capable of much good. We encountered people willing to open up to us, help us, guide us, and teach us. Not just one or two times while we were on the trip but every single day. We learned about the power of hope and certainly about the power of perseverance.