Naitive Mayan students with Shenango campus student during alternative spring break trip

ASB trip gives students opportunity to learn beyond the classroom

Several Penn State Shenango students and two staff members will spend this year's spring break in Belize as part of the campus' Alternative Spring Break. This will be the second time that Shenango students have visited Belize to help the native Mayan citizens.

By: Chuck Greggs

While many students across the country descend on traditional spring break partying hot spots across the country during March, a small group of students from Penn State Shenango will be deep in the forests of the Belize countryside making a direct impact on the lives of native Mayan citizens as part of their Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trip. 

Now in its sixth year, students from the Shenango campus have engaged in service learning projects in diverse destinations, including assisting with Hurricane Katrina recovery in Mississippi, tutoring students at the Navajo Nation in Arizona, building clean burning stoves in Peru, rescuing sea turtles in Costa Rica, and rehabilitating schools in rural Belize.

This year, two staff members and eleven students will take the trip to Central America where they will be updating classrooms and improving the community greenhouse.  For many students, it will be their first time to be out of the country or even on a plane. Like the students before them, it is an experience and opportunity that they will never forget.

Whether studying abroad for an entire semester, engaging in a week-long experience over spring break, or experiencing a different culture within the United States, adding a global/experiential learning course to your college education is an experience that will pay dividends for a lifetime.  Educational immersion in a different part of the world is vastly different than a vacation with family or friends.  An educational program abroad is an opportunity to experience a country and its cultures in a direct way, beyond what a student can glean from reading a book or exploring a website or even hitting the usual tourist hot-spots.   For many students, this can be an opportunity to brush up on foreign language skills, discover new foods, gain a greater knowledge of a different culture and ultimately develop a new vision of our own culture.

“Alternative Spring Break gives our students an opportunity to learn beyond what is taught in the classroom,” said Assistant Director of Student Affairs Jammie Clark. “While they learn about new places, new people, and new cultures, I’ve also seen our students learn a lot about themselves in the process. It is an experience that I am proud to say we offer at the Shenango campus.”