Monday, March 29, 2010

The UW Oshkosh SHRM Trip to New Orleans in Review

In the past two days, I have been reflecting on the trip. I have done this knowing that I really needed to post one final blog entry. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I feel a little like Anthony Michael Hall’s character in The Breakfast Club. I am having difficulty putting my feelings about this trip into words. To some this trip might seem like a cheap way for students to go to a cool place over spring break. However, just like that Saturday morning detention in The Breakfast Club was much more than detention, this trip was much more than a trip. I can honestly say that this has been the most fulfilling experience I have had as an educator.

Why was this trip so fulfilling? Why was it so great? This trip was planned and made possible by students. The funding for the trip came from a grant from Target (The UW Oshkosh SHRM executive board applied for and received the grant funding.), the College of Business, and the student participants themselves. While I admit that these students all had the opportunity to experience New Orleans, they all spent a majority of their spring break getting up early to paint, mix cement by hand, dig holes, and install baseboards. Further, each student lived for a week in close quarters with four other people who the student likely did not know well prior to the trip.

This information will help you to understand, why I was so extremely proud when on their last day of service these students agreed to stay late on the Habitat site to insure that two cement pads that needed to be poured were finished. If you have ever mixed cement by hand, you will understand why leaving would have been a very attractive option. Our site leader gave our team the option to leave. Without hesitation, the students said they did not want to leave without finishing the job.

I also think this trip was great because it was a tremendous learning opportunity. I believe all of the participants including me learned a little more about each other, teamwork, New Orleans, and community service. The students showed a thirst for knowledge. They wanted to understand each other better. They wanted to learn how to work together to properly install baseboards. They wanted to venture into the 9th Ward to see what progress had been made toward reconstruction. They wanted to understand how human resources practices had been impacted at companies such as Emeril’s. They wanted to know why our 25-year-old site leader was working for Habitat. This curiosity and willingness to learn is inspiring to observe.

Finally, this trip reminded me that our student body consists of some really great people. I know some parents have been reading this blog, and I hope that they have continued to monitor it. It has been my pleasure to work with your sons and daughters (some for the week, others for a year or more). You should be very proud.

In closing, I would like to thank Target and the College of Business for helping to make this trip possible! We could not have done this without you!

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