BY: EVAN BYRNE
BETHANY W.Va. – On Friday, March 10th students will be traveling to Ireland for an alternative spring break trip.
Ten students and an advisor will be traveling to Belfast, Ireland. This trip from March 10 to March 18 will be a chance for service, travel, education, and fun! The trip is part of the Student Activities Council’s alternative spring break program. This program happens yearly and consists of a different service trip each year where the students take on projects to give back.
This is a program where students can apply in the fall to be accepted through an application process of answering questions about how they would handle certain situations, and also planning their own service trip. The purpose is to bring travel opportunities to college students at Bethany and more importantly, an opportunity to allow students to use their skills and time to serve others.
This year the students have the opportunity to serve at Social Works which is an after school program for students in Belfast, Ireland. This program is through Amizade, Global Service-Learning, which partners with university groups to manage safe and empowering global service trips.
The students will be volunteering time to help the organization with what they need help with. Some things that they will be doing is working with the students and facilitators with the operation of the programs and educational opportunities they give to the students who attend the after-school program. The Student Activities Council’s advisor, who is also the advisor going to Ireland, Samuel Goodge said, “We will be directly involved with their Social Works program. It is an after-school program for kids to remove them from the streets of Belfast. The program is meant to be a preventative measure to the alternative. We will be interacting, socializing, helping with school work, and recreational activities.” Students will be spending much of their time socializing and working with the kids in the program. They were told to come prepared to talk about the United States, life here, and much more, because as much as this is an educational experience for students of Bethany, it is also very beneficial to the students at the after school program learning about other countries.
These service trips are very important to the college, as it is a part of the mission for the college. Service is stated as a key part of the liberal arts education that students receive at Bethany.
This is also something that students get very excited about. Students look forward to every year hearing the new spring break service trip and applying for it. Even more so, getting to go on these trips causes much excitement. Senior, Josie Doss is 1 of the 10 students who has the opportunity to go and said, “I’m excited to go to see how our countries are different culturally and to try new things and see the beautiful scenery.” Josie also expressed how important service was to her, “… because I like to give back as often as I can. Working with kids requires patience and can be very rewarding. I hope to make bonds with the kids in Ireland and keep in touch with them even after spring break is over.” The students have been getting ready for this trip since the fall. Some have fundraised by selling bed sheets to family, friends, and many people at the college. Since last semester, students’ excitement and anticipation have been building.
Who can’t be excited to get the opportunity to go to Ireland for Spring Break? To add to the experience, students will also be tourists when they have time away from the after school program. They will be taking part in Saint Patrick’s Day festivities in the homeland of Saint Patrick’s Day. This day is a cultural and religious celebration on March 17 which celebrates the death of Saint Patrick, a past saint of Ireland.
Along with taking part in the celebrations, students will also be able to see the beautiful sights of Ireland such as the countryside. They also will tour historic landmarks during their stay. This week in Ireland will be filled with long days of service work and opportunities to explore a foreign land to students. Their days will consist of cultural opportunities in the morning and service at the after school program from 6:00PM-10:00 PM.
The students will get back to Bethany Saturday, March 18 with their hearts full from the impactful service and their horizons broadened from this opportunity for travel. The Student Activities Council will start work on next year’s service project after returning to Bethany from Spring Break.