Campers discuss their experiences at the Hight Impact Leadership Trim, which always focuses around a socially involved core issue.  Photo by Kelly Knutson.

Campers discuss their experiences at the Hight Impact Leadership Trim, which always focuses around a socially involved core issue. Photo by Kelly Knutson.

KellyOpinion1How to make the most of those precious few moments of relief

Emotionally drained, our minds need a break. Time to put the books away and spend a night away from writing papers. No, I am not talking about resorting to video games or going out on the town with your buds, but an educational break that allows hands-on experience to a non-school subject. Spring break signups are around the corner, highly encouraged, and beneficial for any student. Spend your break giving back and becoming engaged. The question is, what type of adventure will you take?

With so many options, it may be overwhelming to choose which way to spend break. The great thing, however, is that there is a diverse spectrum of trips that accompany multiple interests, talents, projects and locations. At Concordia you typically hear of Habitat for Humanity, Justice Journeys and Students Today Leaders Forever trips. Any of these outlets provide students with hands-on, service-based learning as well as self-reflection to evaluate their efforts and impact. These, however, might not fit with all student interests at Concordia.

Individuals might not want to attend a trip during breaks, and that is perfectly understandable. Breaks allow time for students to visit family, rest up, travel with non-school-related groups or take a family vacation. Maybe students allot this time to catch up on schoolwork or pick up work hours for some extra cash. Whatever the reason, you need to decide what works best for you.

For those who want an experience, traveling with a Concordia group is highly recommended. Many trips allow students to bond with those they may not have met through academics or campus involvement. People gain new interests and perspectives that could redirect their future. Some also find a better sense of understanding of who they are. The possibilities are endless.

If you are going to make the most of your spring break, you might as well go on a trip that will be beneficial to not only yourself but potentially your studies too. If you are applying for grad school or building your involvement resume, a  meaningful spring break trip looks great to employers and schools.

These experiences help you practice BREWing by actively engaging in communities and becoming informed on timely issues that are not only relatable nationally, but locally and globally too. Most trips have a central theme, which allows individuals to become knowledgeable about certain issues in depth. That way they can take what they learned and apply it on campus.

In the past I have had the pleasure of going on the HILT, or High Impact Leadership Trip. They focus around a core issue, typically environmental, but aspects of the political and social are intertwined as well. We spoke to leaders and learned their strategy on how to address the issues and complications as well as successes they have had along the way. The HILT especially allows students hands-on learning to see the damage done to the environment and the activists who are working to solves these issues. I may be a little biased, but there is no other trip like this on campus.

The trip is now in its third year. I went on the first two trips, which went to Kentucky for mountaintop removal and Portland for sustainable development and to research the organic food movement. For me these trips fueled a passion and instilled in me an interest to continue these types of studies and activism, and so it has become one of my majors and consumes a majority of my involvement.

This year they will be traveling to Southern Florida to investigate water and climate issues of the Everglades. A crucial habitat to many species, it is being destroyed due to agriculture, development and climate change. While on the trip they will visit nonprofits and agencies that are working diligently and advocating for preservation and education of the Everglades’ intrinsic values. And this is only one such trip. Again, Concordia provides several similar opportunities, and you can make your own.

Spring break family vacations may be fun and relaxing, but rarely provide an opportunity to truly engage the social issues necessary to truly take a step forward into the world. It might be time to take that step.

Kelly T. Knutson

Kelly T. Knutson 15' is an opinion columnist for the Concordia who focuses on environmental awareness / concerns in his entries. Originally from the upland prairies of Grand Forks, North Dakota, Kelly recently transplanted to Bemidji where he calls the conifer forests of Minnesota his home. Being ecologically literate and knowing his roots comes at high importance to Kelly. In his spare time he enjoys being immersed as well as fascinated by nature through hiking, birdwatching, mushroom foraging, camping etc. At Concordia he is involved with Sea - Student Environmental Alliance, Concordia Chapel Choir, Eco-Reps as the Coordinator, 2014 Sustainability Symposium planning committee, coordinating the 2014 HILT High Impact Leadership Trip for spring break, and a Lab TA for the Biology department.

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