The NOVA Student Life team completed their third annual Alternative Spring Break service learning experience. This year, nine students and four Student Life staff members stayed in Roanoke, Va., to complete a combined total of 180+ community service hours. They worked directly within the community on projects led by the a local crisis intervention center, Roanoke Rescue Mission, Habitat for Humanity, and Mt. Zion AME Church.
During the three day experience, students and staff stayed at Mt. Zion AME Church, this year’s host site. The site was selected in partnership with the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project, Inc. (SERCAP). The church established a food bank and a clothes donation site that is open to the public for those in need. Students connected with the church leadership to gain a better understanding of community outreach and support services.
Part of the learning outcomes for the trip included immersion into a new area and culture. By staying in Roanoke they were able to experience life in a rural city surrounded by the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. They were also able to interact directly with different people in the community including some of the homeless population, low income households, and community organization leaders.
After the trip, students reflected on their own privilege as community college students. The experience was an exploration of personal heritage and values, and an opportunity to take action on social issues in the US. The Student Life team hopes that experiences such as the Alternative Spring Break sow service-based leadership skills into the student body of NOVA.