Students use spring break to volunteer, learn about race issues

Aubrey King, Staff Writer
April 3, 2015

There is no happiness like spring break. A week of no classes and homework comes as a relief to almost anyone.

Spring break is an opportunity to have fun, but at Guilford College it is also a chance to learn and explore.

Over this year’s spring break, Guilford students pursued a variety of opportunities. From building houses to conferences on peace and privilege, students found no shortage of wholesome ways to spend a week off.

One of the trips, a work trip to Hertford, North Carolina, taught Guilford students practical skills and life lessons by putting them to work building houses with other volunteers.

“I thought it was really unique that most volunteers at the Friends Disaster Service were older men ranging in age from about 50 to the oldest being 86 years old,” said junior Ben Randazzo in an email interview.

“I think the most meaningful thing that I learned from the volunteers was that age is just a number and that anyone can be involved in bettering the lives of others, no matter what their experience is or what their physical abilities seem to be.”

The lessons did not end there. When two groups come together, an opportunity presents itself to develop skills of cooperation.

“(Cooperation) is certainly a part of it,” said the trip’s leader IFP Gifts Discernment Coordinator Frank Massey. “There’s a learning language that can communicate across class lines, racial lines, economic lines and theological lines.”

Guilford students also broke barriers in conference rooms just as well as construction sites.

Students participated in the 2015 Jewish Voice for Peace National Membership Meeting.

The conference saw hundreds of leaders from all sorts of organizations coming together in Baltimore, Maryland, to discuss the Jewish conscience, community and a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Palestine.

With such a social justice focus, it seems only natural that Guilford students attended and learned from leaders and students from all over the country.

“Jewish Voices for Peace gives me an active, critically thinking and passionate Jewish community that I can be fully present and engaged in,” said Mia Warshofsky, attendee and vice president for Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Central Florida on her Facebook page.

Also pursuing social justice, yet another group of Guilford students attended a conference on racial inequality in he White Privilege Conference in Louisville, Kentucky.

“WPC is a conference that examines challenging concepts of privilege and oppression and offers solutions and team building strategies to work toward a more equitable world,” reads the conference’s Web page.

With attendees from all over the world and a strong social media presence, WPC created a space where Guilford students could learn and develop new ideas to bring home.

“I would absolutely go on this trip again,” said Guilford senior Khadija Carr in an email interview. “I am so grateful that Community Senate, the multicultural department and other donors had the funds to help us attend the conference and enhance the campus climate at Guilford.”

No matter which event any particular student attended, all learned something and almost all wanted to go back for more.

“I would most definitely go on the trip again,” said Randazzo. “I was able to learn, and I was able to build relationships with people inside the Guilford community as well as outside the community.”

Within one week, Guilford students helped rebuild lives, promote peace and challenge harmful social norms. The final minutes of that last Friday class may mean no conventional learning  for a while, but it can also mean a week of experiencing the world in a different and beneficial way.

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