Take a Break (TAB), a service learning program that gives Willamette students the opportunity to engage in community service over spring break, has extended its application deadline to Dec. 13. According to Marion Powell (‘22), the TAB marketing outreach coordinator, this year’s trip is planned to take place in Oakland, CA, where students will volunteer to aid various service organizations who work with youth predisposed to incarceration due to social factors.
Differing from previous years, this year’s trip is planned to only take in place Oakland, CA as the trip size is expected to be smaller than it has been in the past.
To apply to the TAB program trip occurring this spring, google “Take a Break Willamette” to reach TAB’s website. By selecting the “Student Involvement” tab, an interested applicant can apply as either a participant or a facilitator for the trip. According to McKenna Noland (’20), the TAB director, the application is relatively short and only takes about 20 minutes of an interested applicant’s time. The TAB program trip application can also be found on Handshake.
On the Willamette University website, TAB’s mission statement is as follows: “To involve Willamette University students, staff and faculty in community-based service projects and to give students opportunities to learn about the problems faced by members of communities with whom they otherwise may have had little or no direct contact.”
Powell described the impact on a potential participant the TAB experience can offer.
“The experience is brief, just one week. But, engaging in this program for just one of its cycles can really open up someone’s mind as it allows a student to apply what they have read at Willamette and see how issues of social justice are manifested in the real world. A student can also take this experience and grow from it by making connections with these organizations, an opportunity that they could benefit from as well.”
Powell also discussed last year’s TAB program trip: “I joined the TAB program trip last year as a participant. We traveled to Seattle to explore environmental and food injustice. We learned about gentrification, food deserts and the impacts that local community-led service organizations have on their communities, versus that of larger political organizations. It was also important to hear the stories of people in Seattle who are negatively impacted by these issues, and we got the opportunity to do that as well.”
Last year’s TAB trip was one of many. According to the Willamette University website, TAB has been taking students on service trips over spring break since 2001. The topics of environmental justice, food justice and mass incarceration are not new to TAB.
The website states: “Since 2001, students from a myriad of backgrounds have been facilitators or participants of service trips focusing on the intersections of social issues such as education, poverty, racism, hunger, homelessness, LGBTQQ2S+ or the environment.”
Noland described the process that participants engage in as they prepare for the trip: “What makes the impact of this trip on a community really meaningful is that student participants are prepared. Participants will meet once a week for six weeks to discuss the topic of the trip and explore different aspects of the service they will be doing. For instance, one week of this preparation may be centered around discussing privilege, and being mindful of it affects work we will do. We read articles and the process of preparation is all about peers educating peers on how to be more mindful concerning the trip.”