Spring Break Can Be Hard Work

 Spring Break is typically a time for undergraduate students to unwind, travel to exotic places, lounge on a beach, and return to campus with outlandish stories and a nice golden tan. While many Drexel students chose that route of between-terms relaxation, this year 12 Honors students earned their tan the hard but rewarding way: They traveled to Wilmington, North Carolina to help Habitat for Humanity build a house for an economically disadvantaged mother and her daughter.

The service trip was the first of its kind offered by the Pennoni Honors College. The group spent their days working with power tools, paint brushes, caulk guns, and hammers to help Habitat for Humanity staff and volunteers build front and back porches; they added finishing touches to the interior of the home including molding, door frames, flooring, kitchen and bathroom cabinets, and two coats of primer and paint. The group spent their nights in sleeping bags in a local church’s apartment complex, and were able to enjoy some free time exploring the downtown historic area of Wilmington as well as visiting a local beach area.  Most dinners were prepared and served by an assigned group of students each night, but the students were also thankful for a special invitation to a local church’s community dinner event as well as a special night out with Dean Jones after he surprised the group with a visit to the work site.  

The students’ service began long before they arrived in North Carolina. During the winter term, students organized several fundraisers on campus — including raffles, pretzel sales, and an event with Landmark Americana restaurant — in order to cover the costs for transportation and meals. Each student also posed a funding request letter to each of their respective deans, as well as to the Dean Jones, and received several donations toward their fundraising goal.

As part this service trip, students earned one Honors credit for participating in pre-trip classes and presenting a final project about homelessness and economic disparities in the Wilmington region — work that gave the students a greater awareness of things they may have taken for granted. “I appreciate a roof over my head more after helping to build a house and realizing how many people go without a home,” said Robert Keyser (International Area Studies).

Based on the success of this year’s trip, the Honors Program is working with the Study Abroad Office and Center for Civic Engagement to plan an international service trip for students for the 2012 academic year.