Over spring break, nearly 40 Georgia State students embarked on Panther Breakaway trips destined for various cities in the Southeast, including New Orleans, Orlando, Fla. and Asheville, N.C. Panther Breakaway is Georgia State’s version of the nationwide Alternative Breaks program and focuses on engaging students in meaningful spring break activities that focus on a particular social justice issue. Georgia State students had the opportunity to work with many nonprofits to promote environmental sustainability, learn about challenges facing urban education and find out about some of the administrative and organizational aspects of running a nonprofit.
In Asheville, N.C., students trekked to the peak of a mountain to assist the Carolina Mountain Club in clearing some trees from the area to preserve the historical use of the area as a pasture. Next, the students took in some beautiful views of the blooming flora in the area while helping the North Carolina with some trail upkeep. At night, students ventured to downtown Asheville, N.C. to take in the distinct culture of the area. “There was so much to learn about the environment and sustainability from the people of Asheville, and it was a great experience,” remarked Jarrett Faber, a trip participant.
In New Orleans, volunteers spent their time working with the last remaining public schools following Hurricane Katrina, engaging in a classroom discussion on the changing education systems there. Next, volunteers worked with Resurrection After Exoneration, interacting with many individuals who spent decades in prison before being found innocent and learning of the challenges that these individuals face. Participants did not leave New Orleans without experiencing the distinct culture through a stroll down Bourbon Street.
Finally, students traveled to Orlando, Fla. to focus on nonprofit management. “Doing community service with my Panther family helped me to grow not only as an individual, but also as a business student at GSU,” exclaimed a trip participant, Keyanna Russell. Students on this trip worked with the Boys and Girls Club and other local nonprofits, with a focus on the inner workings of these organizations. All in all, the students left with a better appreciation and understanding of what it takes to run a nonprofit organization.
Panther Breakaway’s domestic trips may be over for this year, but they will return this fall. Panther Breakaway International will travel to Costa Rica this May and we look to forward to hearing of their life-changing experiences.
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