During Spring Break, 14 Seattle Pacific University students participated in Urban Plunge, an immersion-learning experience that teaches students about homelessness. Students spent their days on Seattle’s streets, talking with homeless individuals and visiting shelters for tours and meals. (SPU reimburses shelters for meals.) Nights were spent in a downtown church.
The group gathered for discussion each evening. One evening, they discussed how Urban Plunge had changed their thinking. Here are some paraphrased comments:
- "Homelessness is a more complicated issue than I had realized.”
- “I now feel comfortable starting a conversation with homeless people.”
- “As I entered this experience I said I wanted to be challenged. I don't think I really meant that, but I was challenged in ways I didn't expect.”
- “I've had my eyes opened to who homeless people are. I realized that there are street youth, but that they're really pretty normal, like other teenage kids.”
- “I came into Urban Plunge thinking I knew a lot about homelessness; I realized there's a lot I don't know. I've been overwhelmed by the experience but I know I've only seen a piece of what homeless people actually experience.”
As students move into Spring Quarter they’ll continue to reflect on ways to apply their Urban Plunge experiences to their lives, as well as their academic and vocational futures. Whether that application involves volunteer service, political advocacy, or simple friendship, students’ perspectives have been shaped through their Plunge experience.
For another perspective, listen to the report from KIRO Radio’s Rachel Belle, who interviewed students during the Plunge.
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