Need even more reasons for why you should apply to Repair the World’s micro grant funding for your Alternative Break program? Check out Melissa Kansky’s thoughts about the difference Repair funding made on her students’ experiences. Then be sure to apply by November 2!
Why did you decide to apply for the Repair the World micro grant?
We applied for the micro grant because we were exploring a new program that would connect social justice to Jewish tradition. The program targeted Jewish students who had elected to participate in secular Alternative Spring Break programs organized through the university.
In addition to designing a Hillel ASB program, we created a fellowship that provided $100 grants to Jewish students participating in hands-on service experiences during spring break. In order to receive the financial aid, students participated in a 3-part discussion series that explored social responsibility and personal obligation through a Jewish lens.
What were some of the Alternative Break programs that students participated on?
Two traveled to Ecuador, where they explored issues pertaining to the environment. Two students traveled to Asheville, North Carolina and volunteered at the Manna Food Bank, as well as the Children First Resource Center. Others focused on education in Nashville, environmental conservation in Moab, and habitat reconstruction in the Virgin Islands.
What did the 3-part discussion series add to the experience?
The series encouraged students to consider how social action can be an expression of their Jewish identity. Although these students did not travel with a Jewish organization, the pre-trip discussions helped them to connect their hands-on experiences to values present in Jewish tradition. As a result, students learned the mobility of Jewish tradition and its application to activities that occur outside designated Jewish spaces.
What was the most rewarding aspect for the participants?
Evaluative surveys distributed at the completion of the Fellowship provided an opportunity for students to express their thoughts about the discussion series. One student wrote, “As someone who is not very religious, comparing texts to everyday life was enlightening.” Another response revealed an appreciation for being able to connect ancient texts to current experiences.
The discussion series invited students to engage with texts in a less intimidating way, providing them with the confidence to read and interpret text. The students also had the opportunity to meet other Jewish students interested in service and grow their community at UVa.