Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Students Study Appalachia Up Close

Catholic university's poverty course takes students to Appalachia

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Less than two weeks after taking their final exams this spring, a group of students at Jesuit-run Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., crammed into a van for the 19-hour ride to the Appalachian region of West Virginia. The trip did not mark the start of their summer but instead was part of a three-credit course on poverty in America. Pre-med student Breanna Byrnes said that when the group arrived in Clayton, W.Va., she mentally asked their teacher, "What did you get us into?" The group was warmly greeted by the members of Bethlehem Farm, a Catholic community that coordinates volunteers' work in the local area. It didn't take Byrnes long to realize that what they "got into" was far more than the group of five students imagined when they signed up for the senior perspective course. For three weeks the students -- rising seniors whose majors represent a broad range of fields, such as Greek, psychology, political science and athletic training -- were immersed in repairing houses, visiting local families, doing farm chores, praying and reflecting, and doing lots of research and writing.

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