Students choose alternative spring break trip

Farm Forum

While other students use spring break as a time to unwind and take a break from schoolwork, 21 Presentation College students will be busy serving others in New Orleans.

The trip is part of a Landmarks in the Human Experience class offered online by PC. Students will volunteer in a variety of capacities once in Louisiana.

“We’ve got students going from three states,” said Aaron Schultz, who teaches the online course.

In addition to 10 students from the college’s Aberdeen campus, students from the Eagle Butte and Fairmont, Minn., campuses will go on the trip.

Some students who take classes through PC Virtual from Fargo, N.D., are taking part too.

After a 30-hour trip, the students and chaperones will decamp to Camp Restore, an organization that organizes housing and provides volunteer opportunities to various groups visiting New Orleans.

Camp Restore was created in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Elizabeth Blankenfeld, a senior, had been on a mission trip previously and signed up for the class so she would have another opportunity to do mission-based work.

“I thought it would be fun to do it again,” she said.

The class and trip are the result of a collaborative effort between PC’s academic and student services division as well as the Presentation Sisters.

“Students have a number of options for spring break and they chose to fund a trip down to New Orleans,” Schultz said.

He said organizers were mindful of keeping the missions of the college in mind and made sure that students had time for reflection on their service trip.

Brenna McTeer is giving up her spring break for the first time. The freshman is from Florida and has always wanted to go to New Orleans.

“I also like helping people, so that is another plus,” she said. “We’ll have the chance to do repair work and finish the insides of houses and stuff like that.”

Schultz will not be going on the New Orleans trip, but looks forward to hearing about students’ experiences and reading their reflection papers.

“It will be interesting to see the growth after they come back,” he said. “We’ve had international trips before, but this is the first organized domestic trip with a mission focus.”

Teresa Garofalo, PC’s director of student services and activities, will be one of the chaperones on the trip. She said one of the reasons New Orleans was chosen as the trip destination was because of Lantern Light, a ministry of the Conference of Presentation Sisters in the city.

“It’s important to feed the connection between the school and the presence of the Presentation Sisters down there,” Garofalo said.

The students will be busy, she said. There will be time for some sightseeing, though, said DJ Mounga, another chaperone.

“They’ll see the sites but also learn more about the city post-Katrina,” Mounga said.

There are no set plans yet, but the school is considering offering a similar class again for the next school year. Garofalo said there are many sites to choose from because of the presence of Presentations Sisters ministries all over the country, including California and New York.