Spring Break of Service

Far from sandy beaches and snow-capped mountains, Ole Miss students are spending spring break in service throughout the Mississippi Delta

UM students work during their spring break, painting a large map on a wall at a West Tallatchie school.

UM students work during their spring break, painting a large map on a wall at West Tallahatchie High School.

UM’s McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement organized a week full of learning and giving back. Nine students and three AmeriCorps VISTA participants are taking part in educational tours and a variety of community service projects. According to Ryan Parsons, trip organizer and program coordinator for McLean, the trip is meant to both bring classroom learning to life and provide a way for students to leave a lasting, positive footprint in the community.

“In class, these students focus on issues of poverty and education, and the relationship between the two,” Parsons said. “This trip allows them to see those things firsthand. The trip is also meant to let them give back through service in a way that will benefit them. We aim to create a reciprocal experience for the students so that they leave the week as impacted as the communities they are working in.”

From cleaning up around the historical town of Mound Bayou to painting maps at West Tallahatchie High School, UM students are connecting with the community on several levels. While in Mound Bayou, they met with the mayor, who discussed the town’s rich history and founding by freed former slaves. They were also joined by local children, who rode up on their bikes to learn more about the visitors in town.

High school students, including several student athletes, from West Tallahatchie gave their time and talent to help paint two different maps in the school. With extra paint on hand, Ole Miss students took it upon themselves to touch up outside areas of the school so children would find a brighter, more inviting environment when they return to class.

And it’s only Tuesday. Much more is on the agenda for the rest of the week. As for me, being able to see just a small part of this has been the highlight of my spring break.

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