Ivy Leaf - Fall 2013

Breaking the Mold

Students choose alternatives to traditional spring break rituals

Penn State Altoona students were able to take part in a variety of alternative trips over spring break this year, both in the United States and abroad.

One such trip was to Disney World in Orlando, sponsored by the Office of Student Life and the Campus Activities Board. The trip was created to give students an affordable spring break option that included leadership development and community service in addition to positive social experiences with their peers. Forty-eight students were able to attend.

While there, the students participated in the Disney Leadership Strategies College Edition. During this program they uncovered useful tools and strategies that promote effective problem solving, decision making, and managerial skills as practiced by the team at Walt Disney World® Resort. They also spent one day of community service at Mustard Seed Furniture and Clothing Bank of Central Florida.

Says Kim Sterner, “Since Disney always makes everything so magical, I was curious to see how they would go about the leadership program. It was definitely a great program, and we took away a lot of great material. And giving back to others is something I enjoy as well so I knew community service would be another rewarding experience.” Zachary Yukas agrees. “Through the Leadership Strategies seminar, I learned a lot about the skills and qualities of a good leader. That, coupled with the community service component of the trip, helped me realize that I do want to be a better person, and I can be.”

Nine volunteers from Students About Living Truth (SALT) spent the week of spring break in Philadelphia. They worked with the Phil-abundance food pantry separating more than 50,000 pounds of food that was then distributed around the city. The students also worked at a local school teaching classes, helping teachers, and playing with the children. They spent time at a bike shop helping to fix old bicycles that would be sold at a discount to people needing them to get to and from work and also did some general maintenance at a few local churches. Shana Soriano has participated in several SALT trips, and especially enjoyed this one. “It was a great mix of service, fellowship, and growing in my Christian faith. There were two highlights for me: sharing the gospel with and feeding the homeless, and getting to spend time worshiping God with a great group of students from Arcadia University.”

Penn State Altoona’s Newman Club, the campus’s Catholic ministry, offered a trip to Kentucky to work with the Christian Appalachian Project. The organization is committed to serving people in need in Appalachia by providing physical, spiritual, and emotional support. Five students spent their time working on homes, inside and out. Maria Smith helped re-do an entire second floor of a family’s home, replacing drywall and plaster, adding insulation, and installing a new toilet. “It was very humbling to do,” she states. “What I have gained from this experience is to have more appreciation for the simple things in life that I am fortunate to have, like a working bathroom and a roof over my head. I was also able to create friendships with many students from across the country.”

Another group of students participated in the college’s service trip to Jinotega, Nicaragua. This eight-day program, started back in 2001, is a partnership with Outreach360, a volunteer program reaching into disadvantaged communities abroad. Eighteen students, one graduate student, two faculty, and two staff went on the trip. Some students taught English to elementary school children at the Learning Center in the city while others helped make improvements to the center’s sidewalks and retaining walls. Nursing and health and human development students spent their time teaching health care and first aid to the children.

“Most importantly, students learn something about who they are. By this discovery, they realize how they can make a big difference in a very small period of time, says Hesser.”

Student Taylor Sutton was especially touched by his work with the children. “I learned just as much from them as they did from me. I hope I get to go back some day.”