VERMILLION, S.D. — Rather than spend all of winter break with family or friends, about 80 University of South Dakota students and staff plan to give of themselves on seven service-learning trips in the United States and Central America.
USD's AWOL (Alternative Week of Off-Campus Learning) Program sponsors opportunities for students to travel locally, nationally and internationally during winter, spring and summer breaks and one weekend a month. The students engage in service projects and gain new perspectives on social issues while helping the communities they visit.
This year’s winter break trips planned for Jan. 2-9 and the social issues each addresses:
- Guatemala: poverty/habitat
- New Orleans, Louisiana: disaster/poverty
- Orlando, Florida: health/children
- Springfield, Missouri: advocacy
- Dallas: health
- St. Louis: education/child well-being
- Indianapolis: education/advocacy
Students interested in taking part in AWOL go through an interview process and help raise money to cover expenses. With help from the USD Foundation, AWOL has set up a crowdfunding site to help in that effort.
"AWOL meets a number of USD's strategic goals,” said Sarah Wittmuss, director of the Center for Academic & Global Engagement. "It strives to meet the diversity and inclusiveness goals of the plan, encourages service-learning and increases positive relationships between the campus and community.”