Apr. 19, 2013
Nearly 30 Buena Vista University students participated in three AWOL (Alternative Week of Off-site Learning) trips during spring break, enabling them to volunteer their time and service to a variety of people and programs.
Several students traveled to Seattle where they provided service at two non-profit organizations. The group volunteered at the Union Gospel Mission — a Seattle shelter that provides food, emergency care and long-term services to the homeless — where they helped prepare and serve food and cleanup after meals. The students also packaged over 14,000 pounds of food at Northwest Harvest, a non-profit food bank distributor whose mission is to eliminate hunger throughout the state of Washington.
"Our students were out of their comfort zones in a new geographic area, and were dealing with the issues of hunger and homelessness in a much deeper, up-close encounter than they had ever experienced before," says Donna Musel, director of the Center for Academic Excellence (CAE) at BVU and co-advisor of the trip. "The students learned they can make a huge difference in the lives of others."
Zach Ahrens, a sophomore exercise science – human performance major from Carroll, says the AWOL trip changed his outlook on life. "I learned the difference between my definition of 'hungry' and the real definition of not knowing whether you'll get another meal. It gave me a better understanding of the issue surrounding hunger and what we can do to fight it."
Other students who participated in this year's "Hunger and Homelessness" AWOL trip included Jennifer Marshall, a sophomore social work major from Sioux Rapids; Sloane Morrow, a freshman elementary education major from Fort Dodge; Dominique Daily, a senior communication studies major from Chicago; Erika Garcia, a junior psychology and Spanish double major from Storm Lake; Jeff Loving, a junior secondary English education major from Albert City; Mayra Lopez, a freshman social work major from Storm Lake; Caitlin Bach, a sophomore biology major from Bondurant; Jessica Thuma, a junior human resource management major from Woodstock, Ill.; and Kevin Coriolan, a junior corporate communication and digital media double major from Worthington, Minn.