Fall break offers students a chance to learn outside the classroom

Students were given a week-long break away from classes in October, a change to the shorter fall break students had up until two years ago. This week long break, which Concordia has named “ Fall Breakaway,” gives students a chance to step away from the traditional classroom to learn something new and engage with the world around them. For some, this week away from campus allows them to visit family, rest, and recharge. For other students, Breakaway was an opportunity to travel throughout the United States and even out of the country to gain new experiences. 

The nursing and psychology departments co-sponsored an exploration seminar to London over fall break for students to learn about different perspectives on psychiatric healthcare. The nursing and psychology students who went on this trip met with several nursing and psychology experts to learn about mental health experiences within the government facilitated healthcare system utilized by Great Britain.

Senior Kasey Ferguson, a nursing major and psychology minor, was one of the students who went on this international trip.

“I am fascinated by England’s healthcare system, which is provided by the government instead of private entities, and it was exciting to compare their innovative healthcare system with the systems that I have seen during my clinical rotations,” Ferguson said of the trip.

Aside from meeting with nursing and psychology experts, the group got to visit museums, hospitals, and libraries that focused on nursing and psychology; however, they still got time to be more typical tourists in London. Ferguson mentioned that the group got to see Buckingham Palace, the London Bridge, and other tourist spots, while she specifically visited the London Eye, Kensington Palace, and the Dover Cliffs.

Back in the United States, students had more opportunities to travel and learn outside the traditional classroom.

One of these opportunities was the High Impact Leadership Trip (HILT) to Colorado and Wyoming, offered through the Office of Sustainability. This trip focused on mindfulness in nature; students did a lot of hiking and camping in National Parks throughout Colorado and Wyoming during the trip to get a chance to put their mindfulness to use.

Senior Signe Johnson had the opportunity to go on the HILT over break and said it was one of her favorite things that she has done during her time at Concordia.

“I am an avid fan of the outdoors and wanted to have a week to refill my bucket and recharge my batteries so I can come back to Concordia and get back to studying,” she said.

The HILT group got to meet with scholars to learn more about the west and increase their mindfulness of the land.

“These individuals spoke about the value in having public lands, how it can and cannot be accessible to all people, and the indigeous people’s relation to most public land,” Johnson said.

The Office of Ministry sponsored two Justice Journeys over fall break. Senior Kayla Thielmann went on the Justice Journey to El Paso, Texas to learn about the issues surrounding immigration and border control in the United States.

As a social work major, Thielmann is extremely passionate about helping oppressed individuals. “I didn’t know if I should believe the stories about people coming to the US that are shared in the news,” Thielmann said, “I decided to go on this trip so I could see what is happening first-hand.”

The students on this trip met with undocumented people in Texas, attended immigration court to watch the hearing process for undocumented immigrants, and met with a border patrol agent at the border wall in El Paso.

“We spoke with undocumented people and heard their stories about why they came to the US and why they couldn’t become documented. There was a 19-year-old boy who came here to earn money for his grandparents because he is the sole provider for them in Mexico,” Thielmann said.

Ferguson, Johnson, and Thielmann spoke about how the trips they went on were important experiences that affected how they view certain aspects of their lives. For Thielmann, this was a call to work specifically with the migrant population in the South. 

“I decided that after graduation I’m going to go back to El Paso to do a year of service for the immigrant population,” Thielmann said. “I plan to get my master’s degree in social work in Texas because there is a stronger focus on the border and immigration issues.”

Other trips that students went on over break included a Habitat for Humanity trip to Tacoma, Washington, and a Justice Journey to Chicago, Illinois and Washington D.C. to learn about faith and politics. Students should look out for posters on-campus and messages in their campus email about similar trips happening in the spring semester over spring break.


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