By Danielle Golinski, Career Advising Fellow
As Kristen alluded to in her previous post, I also had the pleasure to join in an Alternative Fall Break this past weekend. Myself, another fellow staff advisor, 2 phenomenal student leaders, 9 other students, and 2 passenger vans, made its way to Asheville and Black Mountain, North Carolina. Our trip revolved around community engagement and working with a charter school Art Space. Art Space is a K-8 school which has a focus on the integration of the arts in and out of the classroom. The brightly colored hallways of the school showcase the true talent and passion that the students share and that the teachers encourage. The school focuses on the experiential approach, and encourages all to explore, create, and achieve wonderful things.
New to the North Carolinian area, not knowing much about Asheville (but hearing wonderful things), and having very little knowledge on the concept of a charter school, I became wide-eyed and anxious about what the next few days would hold. My daily mantra since arriving to NC 3 months ago has been to “keep an open mind”, and keep an open mind I did! All aboard!
Our trip consisted of getting a tour of the school Saturday afternoon and starting with some outside work which continued through Sunday. Redeveloping steps between two fields, cutting back bushes and weeds behind the storage shed, pulling up, pulling down, flipping over, and aerating heavy pieces of turf and then reflipping, resizing, pulling back up, and stapling to keep in place, graveling, and making a path for the children were just some of the many tasks completed by the entire team. As you can probably tell, we did a lot of work with the turf that they had on their playing area, and boy, it certainly took every single one of us to get the job completed. Through our reflections each night, many of the students reflected on how hard it was to move the turf around, but that they were able to recognize and appreciate that it was a project that they couldn’t do alone. It was the true definition of team work. They also spent time reflecting of the point that the school staff was so appreciative of this project completed because it was not a project they could have done on their own. It took 15 strong bodies and many hours of labor to complete it, but the job was done!
As we worked really hard during the day, we had time for exploring and sightseeing in the afternoon/evening hours.
This trip was the definition of leadership and giving back. All members – initially strangers – became a tight knit group over the 4 day excursion. We shared memories, laughs, and beautiful views together. We learned through reflection, what it truly means to give back and to help those who are in need. We experienced what it was like to be selfless during our fall break, to keep an open mind, and step outside of the “Elon bubble” to live and to learn fully.