Wednesday October 8, 2008

Mid-Term Service

When the University of Dayton begins its mid-term break after classes end on Wednesday Oct. 8, nearly 40 students will trade their vacations for a four-day weekend of service.

University of Dayton senior Sarah Spurgeon will co-lead a group of students participating in The Chicago Project, one of three Fall BreakOuts sponsored by the University's Center for Social Concern.

The Chicago Project experience is educational, rather than service oriented, and allows students to examine the causes of and solutions to urban poverty. The students will stay in North Lawndale on the west side of Chicago, one of the country's poorest neighborhoods.

"Service can be a great way to impact a community, but understanding the causes of why the service is needed ties everything together," Spurgeon said. "Service and awareness must coexist for change to really happen. The Chicago Project plants the seeds to spread awareness and promote justice."

Guest speakers lead discussions about race issues such as white privilege, racial profiling and varying types of racism, including institutional, personal and quiet, Spurgeon said.

Groups of students will also travel to Camden, N.J., and New Orleans. Students in Camden will volunteer in a variety of service programs in schools, hot meal kitchens, a health center for people with HIV/AIDS, a food bank and housing construction.

Students volunteering time in New Orleans will tour neighborhoods still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Katrina and join the rebuilding effort.

"People are looking for something different to do than a typical vacation, and these breakouts fill up very quickly," said Mary Niebler, coordinator of cross-cultural immersion for the Center for Social Concern. "We provide both a learning experience and have them spend time doing service."

The Center for Social Concern offers annual BreakOuts for students during the fall semester mid-term break, spring break and after classes end in May.

For more information, contact Meagan Pant, assistant director of news and communications, at 937-229-3256 or