Some Culver students work on their tans, go swimming, or visit relatives during spring break, but not Elise Paré '13.
"Me? I climbed the Great Wall, rode crowded subways, and ate duck tongue and mushroom soup. ... My first time leaving the United States took me halfway around the world ... I learned more about the culture and habits of China in two weeks than in three years of studying the language. ... Having the chance to visit China and experience all that I've read (about) was a rare, irreplaceable opportunity."
Elise is one of 105 Culver students, plus 35 faculty/staff/parent chaperones, who participated in Spring Break in Mission in 2011. In addition to China, groups visited Mexico, central Europe (Vienna, Budapest and Prague), Italy and New Zealand. A sixth group traveled to New Orleans.
Since 1988, Culver students have had the opportunity to spend their spring break in a service-learning and cultural exchange opportunity. Mission trips destinations have involved 22 countries, Puerto Rico, and seven states. Regardless of the locale, the Spring Break in Mission program provides students, faculty, staff, and patrons the opportunity to visit a foreign country, interact with its people, experience its culture, and to learn to live responsibly as global citizens.
A step out of the comfort zone
The Spoleto, Italy, trip was also the first time Malcolm Snyder '13 had traveled outside the United States. "This adventure taught me to step outside my comfort zone and ... I don't regret a second of it."
On the other hand, Waverly Neer '11 has made three trips to Amecameca, Mexico, where the Culver team has been building houses in partnership with Habitat for Humanity.
"I have been fortunate to observe how our team makes a greater difference and represents Culver abroad with even higher standards. ... Although our focused initiative is to serve as volunteers, we take time to be tourists as well by enjoying an array of local beaches, food, and culture." Waverly says "this dual objective" provides a most well-rounded mission trip any Culver student could travel on.
Charles Harm '11 called his trip to Central Europe "a life changing experience. What meant the most was helping out with the special needs school in Hungary. It was really heartwarming being able to help out those kids who, through all their adversity in life, still carry on with a smile. I came away with a whole new mindset on life."
The opportunities for students to participate in this learning-giving experience have been greatly enhanced by several endowed merit scholarships that fund a Spring Break in Mission trip in the student's sophomore year. Also, each spring two CMA students and two CGA students benefit from funding provided by the Stephen B. Woodruff '65 Mission Trip Scholarship, Samuel Westerman Foundation endowment, and Frances Wilkins, widow of George Wilkins '50.
This year, Global Pathways trips are offered for Argentina, China, Croatia, Indonesia, India, Irland, Italy, Mexico and Joplin, Missouri