Students Learn About Immigration & Volunteer in Nebraska Communities Over Fall Break

While many were spending fall break at home, relaxing or on vacation, four students joined the Center for Civic Engagement’s Fall Break Service-Study ASB.

“An ASB is an opportunity for students to travel with their peers at a relatively low cost, learn about a community, delve into the culture and history of a community, and then serve that community,” said graduate student Grace Brown, who both planned and attended the ASB.

The ASB, titled Civil Rights Story of the Great Plains, took students to Omaha, Lexington and Scottsbluff, where they learned about immigration and volunteered at nonprofit organizations.

Students visit western Nebraska to help immigrants study for citizenship tests.
Students visit western Nebraska to help immigrants study for citizenship tests.

On Saturday students visited Omaha, where they learned more about the U.S. citizenship test and helped immigrants study for the test. On Sunday the group traveled to Scottsbluff where they learned about the movement westward through the Oregon and California trails on its impacts on native peoples. Students also visited the Legacy of the Plains Museum. On Monday the group painted a basketball court, planted a tree and helped in the soup kitchen at Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic church in Scottsbluff. The group returned to Lincoln on Tuesday.

At the end of each day, students reflected on what they had learned.

“Reflection is a huge pillar we focus on in ASBs,” said Shelby Janke, who helped plan the ASB. “We have conversations that help us think more critically and challenge our own personal beliefs and stances.”

Planning for this ASB started with a brainstorm of what issues exist in the Great Plains and how students can serve communities.

The next ASB will be during winter break from Jan. 1-8 and will focus on the Civil Rights Movement.

“We’ll be doing service at Vicksburg National Park and we’ll be going to Cleveland, Mississippi, to learn about the Mississippi Delta. Then, we will be going to Montgomery, Selma and Birmingham to learn about the Civil Rights Movement in that area,” said Virginia Calderon.

Information sessions to learn about upcoming ASB opportunities are Nov. 1 at 4 p.m., Nov. 2 at 12 p.m., and Nov. 3 at 4 p.m. Service-study ASBs are open to all staff, faculty and students who are interested in either attending or leading.

“The thing that I love about ASBs are that they challenge you in ways that you don’t necessarily expect and give you experiences unlike anything else. We’re ethics focused. You’ll learn a lot, you’re able to serve a community, and you’re able to make a difference on a level outside of your community,” said Brown. “I have been on four ASBs and each experience pushes me to reevaluate my values, why I do service and why it’s important to me. You can always travel, but with ASBs, you travel in a way that is service-focused.”

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