Two students share their experience
FAYETTE, IA (March 25, 2009) -- A group of 13 Upper Iowa University students and chaperones just returned from a week-long Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trip to Charleston, SC, March 7-13. Two students share their experience.
Paige Devine is a junior from St. Charles, MN, plays women's basketball for Upper Iowa University and is majoring in fitness and wellness with a minor in business management. DeVine had a number of compelling reasons for deciding to attend ASB this year. "I thought it would be something new, and I liked the idea of helping out the less fortunate," she said, "But my main reason was influenced by my older brother, Drew, who just completed biking from California to Florida for three months by himself to raise money for Habitat for Humanity."
DeVine also mentioned she travelled to Florida her freshman and sophomore years and says she had a great time but adds, "I saw college students that spent all their money to be in a beautiful, sunny place but doubt that they remember any of it. Spring break can be a great experience if celebrated responsibly." DeVine said there was even an incident in the hotel she stayed at last year in which a female college student fell off of a balcony from either being pushed or trying to get away from a male attacker. "Now if that doesn't open up your eyes to the safety of the 'party scene' spring break, then I don't know what does," she added.
The UIU group made it to their beach house early Sunday morning, after almost missing their connection in Chicago, and spent the first two days sightseeing, attending a baseball game, and working at a former southern plantation, Middleton Place. DeVine says it was fun being with 11 other students she had seen around campus, but didn't really know. "I have bonded with some students that were always right here at Upper Iowa, but now I know each and every one of them and consider them close friends."
On Tuesday, the group started work on one of four Habitat for Humanity houses. "I expected we would be working in the hot sun putting up houses in a poverty area and meeting the families," said DeVine. "What I didn't expect was that we would experience some of the hottest weather South Carolina had this year." The temperatures reached into the high 80s. Devine says it didn't slow any one down though, nor hamper the group's enthusiasm. "We worked past our set time every day; and even on our last day, they asked us to stay a little longer to finish up, and no one complained," she added.
DeVine said they did everything from sanding and painting to caulking and installing doorknobs. "We worked outside, learned how to use new tools, and got our hands dirty," she said. "But the people in charge were very welcoming and provided us with lunch and snacks for which we were very grateful."
Jason Olsgard from Decorah is a sophomore, who plays soccer for Upper Iowa and is majoring in exercise and sports science. Olsgard gives community service as his main reason for attending the ASB trip, explaining, "Helping people in need has always been of interest to me, but something I never got into during my high school days, which was probably due to a lack of effort on my part. However, when I saw Daryl's advertisement for this trip, I knew instantly that I wanted to go." Olsgard added, "It was exactly what I'd been looking for--a way to help people--but also took into account that a trip to South Carolina was a good way to go somewhere for spring break."
Olsgard says one of his most memorable experiences included meeting a woman whose house they worked on and who was taking care of 12 children on her own--some were hers, some her sister's, and others she had taken in. "I was amazed by those numbers and how she could do it, even with the government's help," he said. "I was impressed by her pure act from the heart and dedication to help mother those kids." Devine echoed this saying it was one of her best memories that "just can't be put into words."
Both DeVine and Olsgard indicated it was more than the satisfaction they got from doing community service, but it was also a fun trip. They talked about cooking supper as a group, building sand sculptures, searching for shells, dolphin watching, and meeting and playing soccer with students from The Citadel, the military college of South Carolina. "A lot of my friends wished they had signed up after I told them everything we did," said Olsgard. "I think they regretted not taking advantage of the opportunity thinking it wouldn't be fun when, in reality, it was a blast."
This is the sixth year that Upper Iowa has offered students the opportunity to mix community service through Habitat for Humanity in a positive environment. According to Daryl Grove, executive director of student leadership, ASB trip organizer, and chaperone, "The outings are life-changing experiences for these students by providing practical and educational experiences that complement their traditional classroom education." He added, "Having the opportunity to meet a family that we were helping was an interaction that added value to working with Habitat for Humanity."
The other Upper Iowa students who attended include Jake Rasbeck, Fuquay Varina, NC; John Brokens, Fayette; Zack Bauer, Miles, IA; Anita Sharpe, Cambridgeshire,U.K.; Steven Kluck, Cedar Falls, IA; Justin Marchant, Oregon, WI; Shaina Marnell, Hanover Park, IL; Dani Dreeszen, Spirit Lake, IA; and Shannon Stone, Lansing, IA. Grove and Jamie Wildhage, director of student activities, chaperoned the group.
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