Panther Breakaway International
In May 2015, Panther Breakaway and Civic Engagement are sponsoring the first ever Georgia State University international service learning trip. This service trip to Costa Rica is being coordinated in partnership with the Peacework Development Fund, Inc. During the week in Costa Rica, the eight students selected to go on the trip will be working at a primary school in a rural region of the country that was damaged and displaced by a mudslide. They will be providing classroom assistance to the teachers, building a playground for the students and planting a garden program to assist with the needs of the school cafeteria. This trip will not only aid the members of this Costa Rican community, but will enrich and expand the lives of the Georgia State students through this service learning experience.
Panther Breakaway, a program within Civic Engagement, has been offering alternative break trips serving communities in the southeast United States since 2002. This Panther Breakaway trip will be the first international trip and is aimed at combining service learning with cultural competency that will be useful for students as they begin their careers in today’s globalized workforce. Panther Breakaway participants serve the world by helping to build stronger communities, touch the lives of those in need and form new relationships. The impact of these experiences promotes both personal and professional development and serves as the catalyst for a life-long commitment to active citizenship. Most students will continue to engage in thoughtful action and service as they recognize and become more aware of social and cultural issues beyond the trip.
Panther Breakaway alumni have shared stories about how attending a service trip changed their career goals by introducing them to social justice issues and career paths they had not previously considered. Students also have the opportunity to build transferable skills that they can use regardless of their professional goals.
In an effort to reduce costs for the program participants, the trip is partnering with various campus affiliates. TRIO Student Support Services generously agreed to support one of the students with a full scholarship. The student recipient was one of many interested in the trip and was selected through a competitive scholarship application process. University Housing is also a partner for the trip as the offices work together to develop collaborative programming. University Housing is sponsoring one of the staff members to attend as a chaperon. The staff member’s ability to speak Spanish will be a valuable asset! Georgia’s Own Credit Union is another partner as they have generously agreed to contribute $1,000 towards the trip costs.
In addition, the entire group is partnering with Development and Alumni Affairs to engage in a crowdfunding project. The students are reaching out to friends and family to raise awareness of the trip and ask for donations to offset the costs. The total cost of the trip is $1,782 per participant, which includes all transportation, lodging and meals. The main goal is to offset the student costs by $582, which is the amount of their final deposit for the trip. In addition to providing these funds for the students attending, the hope is to raise $2,000 that will go towards building the playground at the school. Additional funds will go to offset the cost of the staff members who will be chaperoning the trip. As part of the crowdfunding project, the students created a video discussing the trip. To see the video and learn more about crowdfunding visit the project website.
For all but one of the student participants, this is their first experience abroad. Some have previously attended the domestic Panther Breakaway programs and are eager to engage in service internationally. They will be sharing their journey, beginning with the crowdfunding project and continuing on to the service trip itself, using various forms of social media. Feel free to follow along by looking for #panthersservetheworld!
For additional information concerning Panther Breakaway International, please visit Civic Engagement in 428/429 University Center, contact Alicia Bellezza-Watts, or call 404-413-1836.