by Olivia Williams and Erin Bognar
Samford University students have a rich tradition of selfless service, and that was demonstrated recently when many students gave up their spring break vacation to undertake service and mission projects around the world.
Some helped brighten a sick child’s day with dabs of face paint or a carousel ride. Others inspired those less fortunate through their musical gifts.
Ten students traveled to Orlando, Florida, to participate in a service immersion experience sponsored by Samford’s Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership. They worked at Give Kids the World, a nonprofit storybook resort that offers cost-free vacations for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.
Samford students assisted in multiple areas of the park. They served the children and their families ice cream, assisted with face painting, helped with movie nights and themed parties as well as various other maintenance chores.
Samford junior Claire Johnson participated in this trip.
“As a biology major and a hopeful future doctor, I feel passionate about holistic healing, and what happy and hopeful experiences can do for people in medically fragile situations, especially kids,” said Johnson. “It’s a really special opportunity to get to be a part of something that can inspire them to keep fighting their fight and help heal them a little bit more.”
School of the Arts associate professors Brian B Viliunas, Grant Dalton and Susanne Burgess, and Howard College of Arts and Sciences professor Mike Ledgerwood coordinated a missions and service trip to the Dominican Republic with Samford Orchestra and Jazz Band students.
Forty students took a 10-day trip throughout the country to perform and provide educational outreach to the communities.
The group traveled to the cities of Santo Domingo, Punta Cana and Jarabacoa. They held public concerts, worked with the National Youth Symphony Orchestra, performed in churches, and visited schools to teach kids about music and introduce them to instruments.
Not only were students experiencing differences in cultures, they also gained an appreciation for how accessible music education is in the United States compared to the Dominican Republic. Samford sophomore Jazz Band member Krista Boesing was one of the students on the trip that gained this appreciation.
“The visits and performances were important to the Dominican Republic because most of them don’t have the opportunity to obtain and learn an instrument,” said Boesing. “For them, it’s very expensive, and the schools don’t teach them to play most instruments, so having musicians come and perform is a special experience.”
Another group of students traveled to Haiti for a weeklong mission trip through Filter of Hope ministry. The group spent break installing water filters to impoverished neighborhoods.
Service to others at a time when many college students are basking in sunshine on beaches or catching up on sleep is not unnoticed and is just one of the ways Samford University makes a difference in the world.
Olivia Williams and Erin Bognar are journalism and mass communication majors and news and feature writers for the Division of Marketing and Communication.