Not all West Virginia University students are planning their spring breaks around sandy beaches and flashy night clubs.

Some will venture to Jamaica, where they’ll tutor children and test their carpentry skills by aiding in construction projects.

Others will be 5,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean studying the politics of transitional economies in the Czech Republic.

Some won’t need to travel overseas for an exotic experience – 17 student veterans will be wading through the Everglades together.

These are just a few examples of the spring break opportunities offered by WVU every year. The Office of International Programs and the Division of Student Affairs are some of the departments sponsoring these activities.

“It is important for the Division of Student Affairs to provide outside of the classroom learning activities for our students,” said Sabrina Cave, assistant vice president for Student Affairs communications. “Students want and excel in this type of environment. In addition, lifelong learning skills are developed.”

WELLWVU and Adventure WV have organized a six-day canoe trip in the Florida Everglades for WVU students who are military veterans. The trip is free, thanks to generous grants from Outward Bound and the Boeing Corp.

“We advertise the trip as ‘free,’ but, in fact, through their military service they have paid a great cost in order to be a veteran,” said Ian Kellems, assistant director and licensed staff psychologist at WELLWVU. Kellems and Nathan Harlan, from Adventure WV, will accompany the students on the outing.

“These veterans are some of our greatest students,” Kellems said. “They come to WVU with a real wealth of life experience, and they make all kinds of contributions to the WVU community. It is in our best interest to do all that we can to take care of them and keep them happy and successful.”

When not dodging alligators or learning wilderness survival skills, students will reflect on their military service and share their thoughts on post-military challenges, Kellems added.

Further south, seven students will earn one international studies credit in Petersfield, Jamaica. “Community Development in Rural Jamaica” is an initiative of Amizade, an organization designed to empower individuals and communities through worldwide service and learning organization. The organization is affiliated with WVU.

Chloe Detrick, a public relations junior, said she signed up for the trip after an internship in Bolivia. Her experiences in Bolivia – a trip offered by the Office of International Programs – urged her to embark on more overseas adventures in the future.

“In Bolivia, my favorite thing was working with the community and seeing the people laughing, having fun and appreciating us being there,” Detrick said.

Detrick also visited an orphanage and performed construction work in Bolivia. In Jamaica, she and her fellow students hope to accomplish the same.

The group will stay in homes with Jamaican host families. In addition to service work, they’ll get to tour local beaches, a sugar plantation and a sugar production factory.

Trey Goff, service learning coordinator at Amizade, said the group has had a partnership with Jamaica since 2003.

These trips are open to all WVU students.

“Students are not only looking to have a great time, but will be involved in communities and help change the world,” Goff said.

Other spring break trips offered by Student Affairs include:

  • The Student Recreation Center will host a Florida spring break trip with canoeing, snorkeling, swimming and camping activities. Areas visited include Everglades National Park, John Pennekamp State Park, Bahia Honda State Park and Canaveral National Seashore. The trip is full with 18 students and two group leaders.
  • Cathy Yura, assistant vice president for Student Wellness, will go to Kingston, Jamaica to work in an orphanage with 11 college students.
  • Residential Education is supporting the WVU Honors College with their trip to Paris, France. Twenty students are going with Dr. Rhonda Reymond, a faculty member in art history; Jeremiah Kibler, residence hall coordinator; and Christine Garbutt, resident faculty leader.

For a list of study abroad opportunities provided by the Office of International Programs, visit:



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