It’s spring break week at Drexel University, and students have stayed on campus or gone home to relax, unwind and take in the impending warm weather. But for those who decided to stay, campus has become quiet, so you may want to take this opportunity to explore the city and its many cultural, culinary and aesthetic offerings.
Here are a few things going on this week that those who remained local may want to check out:
- Closing week of “Miss Saigon” at the Kimmel Center – The acclaimed new production of this legendary musical will have its final shows in Philly this week. “Miss Saigon” is the epic story of a young Vietnamese woman named Kim who meets an American G.I. during the Vietnam war — an encounter that will change both their lives forever. Get tickets here.
- qFLIX Philadelphia 2019 | The LGBTQ+ Film Festival – Also running throughout the week is qFLIX Philadelphia, a film festival routed in 25 years of LGBTQ+ leadership, promoting the fact that queer film inspires the imagination and encourages the journey of discovery and acceptance by both the LGBTQ+ and the mainstream communities. Review the 2019 program here.
- Two musical spectacles at the Wells Fargo Center – The Wells Fargo Center will take a break from basketball and hockey to host two very popular, very different musical acts. Pop star Ariana Grande will perform tonight on her Sweetener World Tour, and KISS’s End of the Road Tour will come throw town on Friday night. Tickets are still available for both shows.
- See the Phillies Take on the Braves this Weekend – Tickets for the home opener are sold out, but you can still come see what Bryce Harper and this season’s team are all about during two more games against the Braves on both Saturday and Sunday. See here for info and tickets.
- Celebrate Spring at Longwood Gardens – Spring is officially in bloom at Longwood Gardens. This weekend marks the start of their “Spring Blooms” exhibit which features early spring bulbs, tulips, wisteria and flowering trees deepening the lush spring tapestry of color, fragrance and warmth. Find out more here.
With all of the excitement locally this week, you may be thankful for your decision to hang back this spring break. But if you think you’d be up for an opportunity to travel, learn or volunteer next year, it’s never too early to start planning.
Here are two Drexel programs to be aware of and utilize for a different kind of spring break experience:
Alternative Spring Break – Drexel’s Alternative Spring Break program provides Dragons with the opportunity to engage in service learning in the community while also building community with their fellow students.
“Drexel students are so busy that over break might be the only time they have to volunteer,” said Sandy Vogel, program coordinator of student civic engagement for the Lindy Center of Civic Engagement. “They build community with fellow students while also experiencing community outside of their own, that’s different from themselves.”
Each year, a variety of different trips with different focuses are arranged both near and far, working toward everything from disaster and flood relief to environmental conservation.
“Service can look a lot of ways, but direct volunteerism that is hands-on can be very transformative,” Vogel said.
Although service can have personal implications, it is above and beyond a professional development opportunity, Vogel said. Students can learn things like flexibility, being able to work outside of your comfort zone and being empathetic to others not like yourself. And whether it’s for these reasons or simply taking advantage of the opportunity to make an impact, Vogel would encourage students to partake in Alternative Spring Break at least once during their Drexel career.
“When else in your life do you get the opportunity to immerse yourself in service for a whole week?” she said. “You can always go far, but when you get there, what impact do you want to have? Make an impact with Alternative Spring Break. Pushing outside of your comfort zone is a really unique opportunity. There’s not much opportunity for that at home or on vacation.”
Students interested in Alternative Spring Break should keep an eye on Dragonlink for next year’s information, or join the page for updates.
Intensive Courses Abroad – For students who want to go even further and have a deep academic experience over the short break, the Education Abroad Office offers Intensive Courses Abroad on a variety of different topics and in a variety of locations. Best of all? You’ll receive credit for your participation.
“These are credit-bearing courses on very interesting topics that connect with a global location, and the learning is happening experientially,” said Ahaji Schreffler, director of programs for the Office of Global Engagement & Education Abroad. “They’re Drexel experiential learning at its finest, in the global context and with an academic framework.”
All of these courses are faculty-led, usually in their area of expertise and where they have done research or have contacts in the area. And though the programs are specific — for instance, programs this spring break focus on everything from learning documentary film production to studying biotechnology and industry — Schreffler said almost all programs are open to students from across the University with no prerequisites.
“The composition of students is very diverse — the common thread is that they’re all interested in the topic,” she said. “Some of these are students who choose to study topics they’re interested in outside of their major that wouldn’t get to otherwise.”
From a practical standpoint, Schreffler said that students can take advantage of the chance to study abroad outside of the longer term or co-op, so there is no interruption of a plan of study, no need to sublet housing, etc. Participating Dragons are also earn three to four credits for a class in one to two weeks — meaning that’s one less class they have to take when they return for the spring term.
“It’s really smart from academic standpoint because you’re freeing up your time when you get back,” she said.
And although some might be skeptical about the impact such a short program can have, Schreffler said there is so much intentionality with how each program is created that they are impactful from both an academic and a cultural standpoint.
“It’s basically like a class where the city or the country becomes a learning laboratory,” she said. “Many of these have guest lectures, meeting with local experts, industry leaders. … They involve people on the ground that enhance the academic and cultural experience. It’s not being in a bubble as a tourist and just looking at pretty things.”
Students can apply for the next open Intensive Courses Abroad over fall break by May 1. Applications for spring break usually open in the summer by late July or early August. Details to come on the Education Abroad Office website.