Students spend break in Social Concerns Seminars

by Michael O. Garvey

Temporarily released from the quotidian problems of the first semester, some 240 undergraduate students from the University of Notre Dame are spending their fall break (Oct.19-27) immersed in the social problems of the nation.p. Participating in four fall seminars administered by Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns, the students will earn an academic credit by encountering poor and marginal communities, attempting to serve them, and studying Catholic social teachings applicable to their plight. Notre Dame is a pioneer in the field of service-learning and ranks seventh in that category among the nation’s universities, according to a new U.S. News&World Report survey.p. Among the seminars in which students will participate this year are:p. ?The Cultural Diversity Seminar, whose students travel to Chicago to explore and celebrate the ethnic, racial and religious diversity of the city’s communities. In addition to touring neighborhoods, sampling cuisines, and viewing public artworks, the students will meet with and hear from community leaders.p. ?The Gullah Seminar, which examines the history and culture of the Gullah people, many of them descendants of slaves from West Africa. Students will meet people whose geographic isolation in the Sea Islands of South Carolina has enabled them to retain far more of their ancestral culture than other African-Americans. They also will learn about social pressures afflicting the residents of the Sea Islands.p. ?The Appalachia Seminar, which annually sends students to five states in the Appalachian region to examine religious, social, political, and environmental issues and to serve in a variety of community projects. Seminar students will visit and serve in 16 Appalachian communities this year.p. ?The Rosebud Reservation Global Health Initiative Seminar, which introduces students to the culture, health, and social issues of the Sioux tribe on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. Participants will join a team of volunteer healthcare workers to observe and assist as needed.

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