Alternative Reading Week 2020: Sumter, South Carolina

Photo Credit: Brock University

Photo Credit: Brock University

Brock’s Student Life and Community Experience (SLCE) team will once again be hosting their Alternative Reading Week (ARW) program in partnership with Habitat for Humanity. To help spread the word, the team will be hosting information sessions about the initiative.

ARW provides students and the greater Brock community the opportunity to get involved in hands-on service projects while traveling during the February Reading Week.

SLCE describes the experience as one that is designed to give participants the opportunity to meet new people, build relationships and experience new things. The SLCE team anticipates that this will happen both with fellow participants and the organizations they partner with by learning from people living in the community. Participants will also have the chance to experience the host community, delve into the social issues they have and develop new skills as they serve and participate in group discussion throughout the week to help them understand all that they are seeing and experiencing.

Many of the individuals who have taken part in the program have described their experiences as life changing, not only for those who are helping, but also for those who are being helped.

“It is our hope that participants return with a sparked interest in being an active citizen and have a greater understanding of the social issues that impact communities,” said Megan Brown, a community engagement coordinator at SLCE.  “We also hope that participants identify how this experience ties into their academics here at Brock or plays into their future plans while meeting some great new friends along the way.”

This year’s abroad ARW trip is to Sumter, South Carolina during the February reading week. The week will see participants aid Sumter Habitat for Humanity in constructing a home. Individuals who travel on the program need no construction experience and will get the opportunity to work alongside the future homeowners, which Brown thinks adds a very personal touch to the experience.

On October 8 and 9, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. in WH208, students can visit SLCE’s Alternative Reading Week Information Sessions to learn more about the details of the trip and hear from past participants about the impact that ARW South Carolina has had on them. The SLCE team will also be present at the International Mobility Fair in Guernsey Market on October 9 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

SLCE has partnered with Habitat for Humanity to deliver ARW since 2011. Sumter Habitat for Humanity facilitates a program called Collegiate Challenge, where they host school groups for the week.

“For the duration of this program, we not only assist with the construction of a new home but also partake in activities with local community groups during our stay,” said Brown. “We have a great partnership and relationship with Sumter Habitat for Humanity through the connection we have built with them over the years. They are truly a pleasure to work alongside and are some of the most kind-hearted and genuine people you’ll ever meet.”

Brock’s SLCE team also facilitates a number of volunteer projects outside of February’s abroad ARW.

“We offer local volunteer projects within Niagara over the October and February reading weeks. At the end of October, we are also hosting Trick or Eat to collect non-perishables for Community Care and the Food First program at Brock,” said Brown. “It’s a great way to take a study break during the reading week to give back and volunteer.”

Brown encourages students to continue engaging with SLCE’s initiatives. She believes that involvement within and beyond the Brock community presents a good opportunity to enhance students’ university experience.

Students interested in finding information about and taking part in ARW are encouraged to search for the event on Experience BU where they can also register. Interested individuals can also find all upcoming SLCE events and volunteer opportunities on Experience BU.

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