Learning in the Community offers many co-curricular activities to engage students in service.
This program engages Washburn students in focused service away from campus over winter and spring academic breaks. Alternative break trips originated with college students in the early 1980s as a counter to “traditional” break trips. The aim of the experience is to contribute volunteer hours to communities in need, and to positively influence the life of the alternative breaker. Many students have returned to their college campuses to create a campus organization related to the social issue, have a deeper understanding and commitment to an academic path, execute a fundraiser for the nonprofit organization with whom they worked, organize a letter writing campaign to members of Congress, volunteer in their local community, or commit to an internship or career within the nonprofit sector.
This student organization promotes both international service and support of international partners who address the needs of underserved communities around the world. Past projects have included raising money to provide the necessary funds and supplies to run electricity to El Limon, a small community in Nicaragua; the development of a scholarship fund to provide educational access to students in Nicaragua; and organizing two major food packaging events that provided meals to the people of Haiti after the earthquake and to refugees in the Sudan. Washburn Peace Works also works to create awareness of international social justice issues.
Oxfam America is an international relief and development organization that creates lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and injustice. Together with individuals and local groups in more than 90 countries, Oxfam saves lives, helps people overcome poverty, and fights for social justice. For the past three years, a LinC Scholar/Bonner Leader has applied for and been chosen as an Oxfam Change Leader. In this capacity, they attend a week-long training in Boston during the summer and direct the activities of the Oxfam Club for the coming year. Among other events, this includes Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week at Washburn, the annual Hunger Banquet, and the annual Thanksgiving Dinner for those persons who are transitioning from homelessness. The mission of this Club and of Oxfam America is to create lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and social injustice.
Washburn Gardens seek to address the hunger and nutritional challenges of Topeka and Shawnee County. The LinC Scholars/Bonner Leaders created this community garden on the campus of Washburn University in 2009. Food insecure individuals feel the impact of nutritional deprivation in all facets of their lives. Lack of proper nutrition contributes to obesity, lifelong health problems, diminished learning potential and is a negative force on both the individual and the community well being. Washburn Gardens engages the campus community to collaborate in an educational and enjoyable garden experience to grow healthy foods to help lessen the impact of hunger in Topeka and particularly the patrons of Let’s Help. Ultimately, the mission is to create access to locally grown food by developing a sustainable food system.