While most college students spend spring break catching up on sleep or going to the beach, students at the College of Mount St. Joseph will spend their break in service to others. John Trokan, D. Min, is leading a group of students to Eastern Kentucky to participate in WorkFest with Christian Appalachian Project during spring break.
The Appalachian Culture & Spirituality Immersion, IDS 390/ RPS 590, is a course that offers three credit hours with an opportunity to earn another credit hour by participating in service learning. In this class, students will be immersed in the Appalachian culture. Also, the class will focus on Appalachian lifestyle, behavior, family, social, ecological and political systems.
Students will experience mountain life through Appalachian educators, artisans and leaders. This class meets on Wednesday nights for three weeks before WorkFest and then for two weeks after. The course fee is $300, which includes travel, food and lodging and also helps purchase building material for the rebuilding. There are travel scholarships available for this trip.
Christian Appalachian Project's alternative spring break program for college students is known as WorkFest. Over 400 students from over 40 different colleges and universities come together every March for three weeks to rebuild homes for low- income families in Eastern Kentucky.
Christian Appalachian Project, also known as CAP, was founded by Father Ralph R. Beiting, who was a Roman Catholic priest. Beiting was selected to pastor a large portion of central Kentucky in 1950. While he was in Appalachia, he found that most of the people's greatest needs were physical, not spiritual. Beiting made frequent trips back to his family and friends in Northern Kentucky to pick up food, clothing and household goods to give away to the people. Due to Beiting’s determination and drive to fight poverty, Christian Appalachian Project has grown into one of the largest non-profit organizations in the eastern half of the United States.
"Ever since 1991, I have led a group of students down to Eastern Kentucky for this wonderful alternative spring break program," said Trokan. "And every year I am continually blown away by the generosity of the Mount students as well as the families that we serve."
WorkFest emphasizes service-learning, community and spirituality. While serving the poor, students are also building a community in a Christian environment. The college groups are divided up into teams of seven to twelve students with two to three experienced crew leaders. This allows students to meet new people from different schools and grow long lasting friendships. Spirituality plays a role in morning or evening devotions that the colleges prepare before coming.
"Participating in WorkFest changes your outlook on life and makes you realize how blessed you truly are," said Laura Beck, a junior who went to WorkFest in 2012. "It is an experience that you will never forget.”
"It is an inspiration to watch these students put in so many hours of construction into these families’ homes. I am constantly reminded of Father Beiting’s quote ‘don't settle for being ordinary, be extraordinary,’ during WorkFest. These students and families are an inspiration to me in my life," said Trokan.
If you are interested in this service or have any questions, Dr. Trokan would be happy to see you. If you want more information about CAP or WorkFest go to http://www.christianapp.org.