"We went on our Alternative Break (AB) trip to help teach schoolchildren, but I think we learned more than they did," said senior Bonner Scholar Rebecca Worrell.
Worrell and 13 other Davidson students went to Selma, Ala., for spring break. During five busy days they worked at three schools, visited sites that are historically significant to the Civil Rights Movement and participated in non-violence training courses.
The Selma trip was one of four AB trips the college organized this year. Other students ventured to Macon, Ga., to rebuild homes with Habitat for Humanity, to Washington, D.C., to volunteer with the National Coalition for the Homeless, and to Richmond, Va., to work with previously incarcerated men and women in a job training program. On average, each student participant completed 40 volunteer hours by the end of their weeklong trips.
Seniors Jennie Endersby '13 and Amelia Lumpkin '13 co-planned the Selma break trip through the Freedom Foundation, a volunteer-based organization whose mission is to help "develop, educate, train, encourage and assist the next generation through programs and services that inspire and equip kids to reach their full potential."
Students in the Selma group visited schools in one of the nation's poorest counties. Endersby said, "Visiting Selma, I realized the impact that slavery has had on the area, and how that impact still carries over today."
She continued, "The schoolchildren we met seemed surprised by the diversity of our group. Teachers told us that their children were unfamiliar with racial backgrounds that differed from their own, and that our visit showed how diverse groups of people do hang out together."
In their non-violence training session, participants discussed Martin Luther King Jr.'s six principles and six steps of non-violence as outlined in his book Stride Toward Freedom. They talked about how these tenets were important in the Civil Rights Movement, and how they are still relevant today.
Students also visited the Rosa Parks Museum, spoke with a panel of advocates from the March from Selma-to-Montgomery, and met 1960s Civil Rights activist Bernard Lafayette Jr.
"I'm still processing the trip," said Worrell. "The degree of poverty was shocking, but the enthusiasm of the activists we spoke with, and what they've been able to do through non-violent activism, is encouraging."
Endersby has participated in a previous AB service trip to Asheville to work with an environmental organization. Selma was the fourth service trip for both Endersby and Worrell. Worrell previously participated in a trip for first year Bonner scholars, a trip investigating immigrants' rights, and in a Mississippi river clean-up. She led an environmentalism trip her junior year and helped plan this trip to Selma. She hopes to work in non-profit advocacy after graduation with organizations like the YWCA.
Endersby is applying to work with children through international non-profits.
"Alternative Break trips challenge students in new and different ways," said AB advisor Christa Leimbach in the Center for Civic Engagement. "Time away from Davidson immersed in a different community allows them to dig into social issues, and creates deeper understanding, and meets a community need."