April 16, 2018

More than 25 Buena Vista University students, faculty and staff participated in three Alternative Week of Off-site Learning trips during spring break, enabling them to volunteer their time and service with a variety of people and programs. 

This year marked BVU’s 20th AWOL experience, which has led to more than 760 volunteers worldwide and an estimated 36,060 hours of service – furthering its mission to immerse students in different cultures, heighten social awareness, and advocate life-long social action through service on a local, regional, and international level.

“Students’ lives are transformed and their outlook on how they project their future careers and their role in society changes.”

Dr. Ashley Farmer-Hanson

“AWOL provides students with a glimpse of the world that many people do not get to see,” said Dr. Ashley Farmer-Hanson, assistant dean for student life and director of civic engagement. “They see people at their most vulnerable stages in life and work alongside of them. These individuals let us in to their world to learn more about their community, social justice issues, and to provide us with a new outlook on life.” 

To ensure the AWOL program’s long-term impact on the student and the Storm Lake community, students research their service areas, identify a local need, serve to understand it better, and address it using new skills learned on their AWOL trips and by engaging in local service projects. 

“Students’ lives are transformed and their outlook on how they project their future careers and their role in society changes,” added Farmer-Hanson, who also served as a site advisor on the trip to Los Fierros, Nicaragua. “It’s a wonderful transformation to see in a few months of leadership training, service over spring break, and post-service in Storm Lake once they return.” 

Learn about this year’s trips: