Wartburg College Orange Corps
The Wartburg Service Trips program recognizes that service trips are only deemed successful if the impact of the experience reaches beyond the week of direct service. Given that, our goal is that participants will share what they have learned with others and be inspired to work towards social action in their own communities upon their return. Our intent is that students’ personal investment in their service projects (through research, hands on experience and reflection) will transform their thinking and create a life long commitment to service and the public good. By keeping service trips student-centered and directed, participants become actively involved in the entire process.
We are a proud member of Break Away. Break Away's mission is to train, assist, and connect campuses and communities in promoting quality alternative break programs that inspire lifelong active citizenship.
Break Away's vision is a society of active citizens: people who value the community as a priority when making life decisions. As part of a quality Break Away experience, participants will become more educated and experienced in all sides of a social issue. Upon return, they will be empowered to make more informed decisions and take meaningful action that supports a greater good. They will become contributing members of society and will weigh in on issues that impact their communities.
Currently,among 139 chapter schools, Wartburg ranks No. 2 nationally for having the highest percentage of students (9.1) on service trips. During the 2009-10 academic year Wartburg ranked No. 1 by Break Away with 15.3 percent.
The history of service trips at Wartburg College runs deep. According to past Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students, Lex Smith, the real birth and beginning of the current Service Trip program occurred in 1994 when the Catholic Knights moderator Cathy Heying led a small group of students to Philadelphia to work with the Sisters of the Holy Redeemer during Winter Break. Upon their return the students were so enthused that they wanted to design and lead other trips the following year. The next year there were three trips organized by students.
For several years in the mid 1990’s, the Residence Hall Director of the Complex Val Jones, who had been actively involved as an undergraduate in service at the College of St. Benedict/St Johns, brought her philosophy of service to Wartburg and helped to advise and support service trips along with Campus Pastor, Larry Trachte. Trip guidelines, selection process, and basic philosophy for the Service Trip program emerged from that process. Initially most trips were to urban areas with projects related to social justice, such as working with underprivileged children, homeless and poverty programs and after school programs. As the program developed Winter Break Service Trips included Habitat build trips as part of the Collegiate Habitat Program. These experiences proved to be quite worthwhile for students and provided a meaningful introduction to the Habitat mission of eliminating poverty housing worldwide.
In 1998 the college made a decision to formalize the support for Service Trips and for other service initiatives by establishing the Community Service Office within the division of Student Affairs. Ann Drolet, an adjunct professor in the English Department was the first person to fulfill the position. Then in the fall of 1999 Dale Rush was hired as the quarter time Community Service Coordinator with complimentary residential life responsibilities and service-learning projects. Patrice Bailey was the last person to hold the title of Community Service Coordinator from fall 2001-2005. Over the course of those years the office worked with prospective student trip leaders to provide some level of personal and logistical support, guidance, continuity and expertise to the eventual trip leaders and to the faculty and staff who advised and accompanied these trips. With the establishment of the Community Service Office, some policies and procedures were formalized to address safety and financial considerations and to help provide for a positive service-learning experience. A Service Trip Manual to pull various policies and procedures together was developed. A Service Trip Advisory Board was also established to help select trip locations and leaders, to identify various forms of resources, to provide general policy advice and guidance, and to assist with training. The Leadership Education Committee, a faculty committee with staff and student membership, was given the general oversight and monitoring responsibility for the Service Trip program.
Then in August 2005 the Community Service Program at Wartburg College made yet another transition. With support from the Lilly Endowment, the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) was launched as a part of the Discovering and Claiming our Callings Initiative to provide a central contact point for the community at-large. Under the division of Academic Affairs the CCE consists of five full-time staff members (Director, Internship Coordinator, School Partnerships Coordinator, Community Partnerships Coordinator and Community Service Associate) who work to connect students with leadership, service, and experiential learning opportunities in Iowa’s Cedar Valley and nation wide.
Where are we now?
The Service Trip program is coordinated by the student Service Trip Executive Board with over sight from the Service-Learning Coordinator and support from the Director of the Center for Community Engagement. As characterized by the Callings Initiative, Service Trips allow students to serve now while teaching them how to discern and claim their vocation and place in the world. They help participants discover how to use their gifts, talents and abilities to identify and meet the needs of the communities around them.
Since 2000 our program has grown considerably, moving from an average of six to eight trips over Winter Break and Tour Week to an average of 20 trips per year that span the full academic calendar from Fall Break to Tour week. The largest Wartburg Service Trip to date took place Tour Week 2006 with more than 90 students chartering down to New Orleans, LA to assist with Habitat for Humanity’s Hurricane Katrina Relief efforts. The group stayed at the government sponsored FEMA camp and worked with Habitat to gut homes that had been ravished by the tropical storm. Several groups return to the area each year for Winter Break and Tour Week to contribute to the ongoing relief efforts.
Service Trips, whether locally, regionally or nationally, will continue to be a strong part of the Wartburg College experience. Service Trips contribute to the institution’s ability to foster a culture of service and leadership. Participants are challenged to critically examine their assumptions, deconstruct their stereotypes and examine their own privileges. With a focus on social justice, our hope is that participants will be opened up to the experience through the transformation of their thinking. We recognize that the community is our partner and that we are learning through our service.
The experience cannot be deemed a success unless the returning students put into action the learning and growth that a week spent in pure service brings. Given that, our goal is that participants will share what they have learned with others and will be inspired to work towards social action in their own communities upon their return.
Wartburg Service Trips subscribe to Break Away's eight components philosophy and Active Citizen's Continuum. In addition, we utilize Minnesota Campus Compact's Social Change Wheel framework to guide our work with the communities we serve.
- #1 Strong Direct Service:Your trip will provide you with an opportunity to engage in direct or "hands on" projects and activities that address unmet social needs, as determined by the host community.
- #2 Alcohol and Drug Free Environment:Issues of legality, liability, personal safety and group cohesion are of concern when alcohol and other drugs are consumed on a service trip. The service trip program will provide education and training on alcohol and other drug related issues, in addition to developing and communicating a written policy on how these issues should be dealt with.
- #3 Diversity:Strong service trips include participants representing the range of students present in the campus community. The service trip program embraces this mentality and actively seeks to recruit for, design, implement, and evaluate with this in mind.
- #4 Education:Programs should include educational sessions that participants attend prior to and perhaps during their service trip experience. These sessions should provide participants with a sense of the history of both the region they will be working in and of the problems they will be working with during the trip. Effective education provides facts and opinions from all perspectives on the social issues, including ways that the participants' personal life choices are connected to them.
- #5 Orientation:Prior to departure, participants should be oriented to the mission and objectives of the campus Service Trip program and the host agency or organization(s) with which they will be working.
- #6 Training:Participants should be provided with adequate training in skills necessary to carry out tasks and projects during the trip. Ideally this training should take place prior to departure, although in some instances it may occur once participants have reached their site. Examples of training include teaching basic construction skills, learning how to work with physically challenged persons, or learning how to test ground water for impurities.
- #7 Reflection:During the trip, participants should be encouraged to reflect upon the experience they are having, synthesizing the direct service, education, and community interaction components. Time should be set aside for this activity to take place both individually and as a group.
- #8 Reorientation:Upon return to campus, the service trip program should have reorientation activities for all participants where they can share their break experiences and translate these experiences into a lifelong commitment to active citizenship. Through these activities, participants can learn about volunteer opportunities in their local area, summer internships, political avenues for continued community involvement, resources for continued education on social issues, tips for making personal decisions that benefit the entire community, and similar means for continued community involvement.
Stats at a Glance
Wartburg College has sent 1572 volunteers 181,154 miles to volunteer more than 60,000 hours of service! We have volunteered in 98 cities in 31 states and 5 countries! That's a value of $961,200 contributed back to communities!
For the 2010-2011 academic year Wartburg Service Trip participants contributed 7,903 hours of service valued at $131,901.07 (According to www.independentsector.org the Iowa Volunteer Hours is worth $16.10).
The Wartburg College Service Trip program recognizes that service trips are only deemed successful if the impact of the experience reaches beyond the week of direct service. Given that, our goal is that participants will share what they have learned with others and be inspired to work towards social action in their own communities upon their return. Our intent is that students’ personal investment in their service projects (through research and hands on experience) will transform their thinking and create a life long commitment to service and the public good. By keeping service trips student-centered and directed, participants become actively involved in the entire process.
Here is what we know from our post trip survey about the positive effects of service trips:
- Students experience personal growth on their service trip
- 96.8% reported they learned something new about themselves
- 94.7% reported they had experienced personal growth
- 85.1% reported that they trip made them more aware of their own prejudices and biases
- Students gain interpersonal skills as a result of their service trip
- 94.6% reported an increased empathy for others
- 90.4% reported an increased understanding of different cultural perspectives
- 92.5% reported they learned more about a social issue
- 97.8% reported they learned something they could not have learned in the classroom
- 96.8% reported they learned/experienced something on the trip that they could not have at Wartburg or in the surrounding community
- 86.1% reported that reflection was a key tool for their learning
- The majority of students connect the service trip experience with their vocation
- 79.6% reported they were able to make connections with their coursework
- 82.8% reported that they recognize a connection between their service trip and their vocation
- 84.8% reported that the service trip helped them develop a sense of purpose for their life
- Students report high efficacy and a desire to serve
- 88.2% reported that they believe there are things they can do to solve social problems
- 96.8% reported a stronger desire to serve others
- 94.7% reported they feel a responsibility to serve their community
- 88.2% reported they will be more likely to serve in their local community
- 93.6% reported they will be more active in non-profit organizations
- 41.5% reported that they would become more politically active (40.4% reported neutral)