Christmas Break 2011 was an especially exciting time for 14 SPU students, who went on the inaugural study abroad service learning trip to the Philippines. Although the trip was designed for family and consumer sciences (FCS) majors in order to apply the FCS mission of “enhancing quality of life through food, clothing, shelter, and relationships,” a variety of SPU majors attended, including business, exercise science, sociology, and pre-nursing.
While there, students worked in a children’s home, a teen home where they put on a Christmas dinner (complete with roasted pig), organized a teacher-staff lunch for the school that served the orphans and squatter village, and had a Christmas giveaway of donations from the UnitedStates Over 1,600 people came to the giveaway to receive a bag of fruit and a gift.
“So many relationships were made,” says Sharleen Kato, professor and director of the family and consumer sciences program, and trip’s faculty advisor. “Probably the most impactful part of the trip were the feedings” that took place in different poverty-stricken communities each day. “We would drive in with our two bins of vitamin-enriched ‘mush’ and our ladles, calling out ‘feeding!’ Hundreds of children and adults would come running with their bowls or cups. Many were sick, living in flooded areas, and all in dire need. The hardest two feedings were when food ran out.”
Kato is happy with the way the trip turned out. “Even after teaching at SPU for 25 years I am always amazed by our students. They certainly spent their Christmas break ‘engaging the culture and changing the world.’”