MARCH 11, 2010 — NASHVILLE, TENN. — For some, spring break means a lazy week on the beach, but for fourteen students from Monmouth College (Illinois) and their advisor, Daniel M. Reck, this week is about hard work.
The college's website quoted Reck, explaining the Alternative Spring Break contingent would be "working with several different groups, and what’s exciting to me is that they’ll be doing more human service work than they’ve ever done before” Reck is Assistant Director of Greek Life, Leadership and Involvement at the college.
“In the past, they’ve done more physical jobs. They’ll still be doing some of that, but they’re also going to work with some elementary school students and with some senior citizens,” Reck said. The service included lifting spirits with music performed by Reck and his students.In partnership with Americorps, the Monmouth students have worked with Nashville-area seniors in three different types of environments. One was a day-program for seniors hosted by a local church, while the others were in residential facilities. At each location, student vocalists, pianists, and guitarists played music to entertain the seniors.
Reck also performed on handbells, and his portion of the program included "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" arranged by Nancy Hascall, "Simple Gifts" arranged by Nancy L. VanZant, "Plink, Plank, Plunk!" by Leroy Anderson and arranged by Robert Ivey, and "Symphonia on Hyfrydol" by Kevin McChesney. Photos of the performance are posted on Facebook at www.facebook.com/danielmreck.
After the music performances, the students engaged the seniors in small group activities to promote physical and mental health, artistic expression, and story telling. "Students witnessed the disparity between government-funded [residential] towers and privately owned ones," said Reck, "The noticed the difference in hygiene, in socio-economic status."
Exposure to different ways of living is part of the theme of the student-planned spring break experience. When they visited a local elementary school to do science experiments with a third grade class, the college students found a classroom of kids who looked nothing like themselves: Most of the students are ethnic Kurds. "Almost all of the third graders are first generation school-goers and many do not have both parents at home," says Reck, "Which has significant implications in the classroom. Part of the challenge the college students faced was challenging their own assumptions."
The Alternative Spring Break program is one of several service-related opportunities offered to students by Monmouth College, all of which are led by students themselves. "I am very proud of these students, especially Craig Maher and John Cayton, for all the incredible work they put into making this trip happen," says Reck. "I'd also like to give a shout out to Alicia Phillips and the fifteen students who stayed in Illinois as part of another ASB contingent focused on giving back to the college's surrounding community. That's very important, too."
Photos from the entire week in Nashville have been posted on the group's own Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/mcASB. "If you're my Facebook fan, please also be a fan of Monmouth College ASB," says Reck. Follow the college and Reck on Twitter at @Monmouth and @DanielMReck, respectively.
Photo by Mike McIntyre.