Clark U. students spend Spring Break helping others, near and far

Volunteering with the Greater Worcester Land Trust are: (pictured from left to right) Lyor Dotan '14, Gustavo Taboada, Andy Masley '13, Binh Tang '16, Louis Valliere '16, Jordan Stein '13, Devra Goldstein '16, Samantha Wallace '16, and Sanika Shah '16.

While some Clark students might’ve spent their Spring Break regrouping and relaxing, dozens of Clarkies mobilized and set out on organized adventures near and far with the aim of assisting others in need.

Thirty-one undergraduates stayed in Worcester and spent several days participating in Clark's second annual Service Learning Alternative Spring Break Staycation.  The program ran from Wednesday, March 6 through Sunday, March 9.

Substantial funding for the program came from Clark's Undergraduate Student Council (CUSC), CEV, and the student's themselves. Assistance was also provided by Clark Athletics, Residential Life and Housing, Clark Dining Services and Physical Plant.

This year's participants were predominantly first year and international students.  The students volunteered at over a half dozen local agencies, and worked outdoors for The Greater Worcester Land Trust, served dinner to the homeless at Jeremiah's Inn and fixed old bicycles at the Earn-A-Bike program.

Visit Clark's Flickr page to see more photos of students helping others during Spring Break.

According to Gaia Khairina ’14, “Nepali and Vietnamese students learned to build homes through Habitat For Humanity, a Peruvian student bonded with a recent U.S. immigrant from Peru in the Regional Environmental Council greenhouse, and the South Asian
students had their first attempt on cooking
chana masala and lentil dal for 30 people—and succeeded!”

Ying Ge Wang '16 worked at construction site for Habitat for Humanity.

“That day, it was snowing and very cold while we were at the construction site, but the construction workers still worked hard and were happy to teach us how to build the walls and doors,” said Wang.

Wang and the other students attended presentations by Clark's VP for Community and Government Relations Jack Foley on Main South and the history of Clark's relationship to its neighborhood, and Clark's Community Engagement and Volunteerism Director Micki Davis on reasons for and opportunities to commit to ongoing volunteer engagement while at Clark.

“Now I am so proud of being a Clarkie,” said Wang.

Meanwhile, six Clark undergraduates traveled to Jamaica with David Jordan, president of Seven Hills Foundation and adjunct professor at Clark, to the non-tourist areas of Kingston, Jamaica, to explore healthcare services and microcredit. The students all take Jordan’s Social Entrepreneurship course.

Volunteering in New Orleans were Pooja Patel ’16, Brian Kane ’15. Joseph Carpenter ’13, Natalia Abrahams ‘16, Delight Gavor ’16, Stephanie Venezia ’15, Jheanell Lumsden ’16, and Hayley Cunningham ’15.

In addition, 20 local students (19 from Clark and one from The College of the Holy Cross) took a 27-hour bus ride to New Orleans, Louisiana, to participate in the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF).   The group worked alongside students from UVM, Boston College, Stonehill College, and Northeastern University, rebuilding homes with groups like Habitat for Humanity, Rebuild Together, Project Homecoming and others.

Clark students worked mostly with The Journey Fellowship Church 9th Ward church community, painting, building fences, and organizing a field day for kids in the community. They also helped an independent alternative school and sustainability education center based in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans and learned about environmental justice, farming and community building after Katrina.  Other activities on the farm included composting, planting crops, weeding.

Jeronda Scott ’16, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, said, “It was a huge honor to serve my fellow Louisianians.  We had the chance to worship and have faith discussions as small groups and it is such a blessing to be able to hear the variety of views about faith…This was truly an experience I won't forget. Plus the food I ate will satisfy my taste buds until I make it back home in May!”