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ISU students volunteer break time for Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma

Written by on April 13, 2023

Photo provided by Alternative Breaks at Illinois State University

NORMAL, Ill. – Illinois State University’s Center for Civic Engagement offers students an opportunity to participate in Alternative Breaks, a weeklong service program during university breaks.

These trips are designed to provide students with firsthand experiences of different cultures within a community and primarily focus on service. The goal is to expand their knowledge of various backgrounds, including community income, religion, socioeconomic status, and education.

This past spring break, Illinois State students had the chance to support the elders of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. The program provided an opportunity for students to meet elders of the Cherokee Nation, listen to and experience stories about the land, and paint houses within the community.

Students can take on leadership roles as trip leaders, like Cassidy Devine, who discussed the service relating to painting homes in the community.

“We visited a local home in the countryside and got to repaint the exterior the of the house and repair some other things on the property,” said Devine.

Another trip leader, Meg Kickham, felt very inspired by the Cherokee Nations and learned about their shared experience. She shared how they listened to members of the Cherokee Nation speak about their own upbringing and how Cherokee was taught as a class in their school, but it wasn’t forced upon them like in another nearby grade school.

The Alternative Break trips offer students a unique opportunity to learn about themselves, their relationship to community service, and their experience with new communities. These trips are designed to provide meaningful service work while immersing students in different cultures. By engaging in these experiences, students gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of the world and the importance of serving others.

Through Alternative Break trips, students develop important skills like communication, problem-solving, and leadership. They learn how to work as a team and adapt to new situations, which are invaluable for personal and professional growth, helping students become more well-rounded individuals.