Students to be paired with alumni for New Orleans service trip
by Ariel Klatskin ’13
May 4, 2010
Josh Handelsman ’12 (left), Catherine David ’11, Michael Blair ’12 and fellow students will team up with alumni for Dickinson’s latest service trip to New Orleans.
This month, Dickinson is set to unveil a new twist to its traditional service trip to New Orleans by pairing 15 alumni with 15 students. Four administrators also are on board.
“The goal was to encourage more connection with our alumni who are interested in service and making a difference for others,” said Mira Hewlett, interim director of religious life and community service.
Alumni response has been enormous. Because the number of participants is limited for the May 24-30 service trip, many who expressed interest in participating said they would like to be considered for future trips, Hewlett said.
Though the matching of alumni with students is new, Dickinson’s service trips to New Orleans have been ongoing since Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. The college has worked with the United Methodist Committee on Relief to sponsor nine trips to the Gulf Coast region.
This will be the third service trip to New Orleans for Catherine David ’11 of Lower Gwynedd, Pa. Because the trips take place in the same region every year, David anticipates seeing continued improvement and the added dynamics and experiences the alumni will bring.
“This seems to be a bittersweet goal,” she said. “The recovery efforts have dwindled as New Orleans has fallen out of the realm of the media.”
This also is a return trip for Michael Blair ’12 of Califon, N.J., who took part in last year’s Serve the World trip.
“Many people who look at the situation in New Orleans think that after five years the consequences of the flood are gone,” he said. “But in reality, they are still strongly visible in the New Orleans’ community.”
Blair believes the inclusion of alumni is beneficial to current students as well as the alumni themselves, adding, “It will be a great way to bring both the school and the alumni together in an atmosphere that represents true Dickinson character.”
Amy Perkins ’02 is looking forward to helping out in a city she has always loved.
“Real-world examples of alumni can inspire current students to look at new fields or realize that a major doesn’t necessarily determine a career path,” Perkins said. “It also will be interesting for alumni to see Dickinson as it is now, through the eyes of current students.”