Fourteen TCC students spent their first three days of Spring Break exploring the network of organizations that grow community in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood.
The Office of Student Engagement (OSE) created “Alternative Spring Break Program 2016 Serve and Learn: Exploring the Past and Present of Community Organizing in The Hilltop” to help students develop leadership skills – and learn how to use those skills in the interest of building an equitable campus culture and community.
Community partner organizations included:
- Peace Community Center
- The Conversation Tacoma
- Hilltop Urban Gardens
“This pilot Alternative Spring Break program aims to deepen students’ understanding of the importance of civic engagement and spark a passion for serving one’s community,” said OSE Director Sonja Morgan.
For three days and two nights, students brought a “give it all you’ve got” attitude to service learning. They learned about food sovereignty while planting seeds for Hilltop Urban Gardens. They completed a Fishbowl Activity on race and social justice with “The Conversation Tacoma.” At Fabitat, they learned about “The Five Elements of Hip Hop and Youth Organizing.”
Before heading out to volunteer, students completed related short reading assignments and heard from leaders of community organizations.
“Not only was it a hands-on experience, but we were able to engage prior to being hands-on by the curriculum component of the trip, such as the presentation Dean Jackson gave us on food sovereignty or the history we learned about graffiti from Kenji Stoll, artist at Fab-5 (a creative lab for youth in Tacoma),” said student Gloria Muhammad.
After a day of volunteer experiences, they reflected on their learning in after-dinner sessions that included speaking, writing, and art. Learning Outcomes for the program include “Rep your town positively,” “Do something you have never done before,” and “Make supportive friendships – meet new people and share strengths.”
“I think it was an awesome experience that I think TCC should continue to have every year, maybe reinventing it in some ways each time,” said Muhammad. “I am thankful I was able to help plan and participate in the very first one!”