Eleven students and three staff members from UT will spend six days over spring break exploring issues of international social justice and human trafficking in Prague, Czech Republic.
The Center for Leadership and Service has partnered with campus ministries UTK Cru and Collegiate Abbey to provide this unique collaborative service immersion experience. The group departs Saturday, March 12.
“The Center for Leadership and Service strives to educate and engage all students to lead and serve in the global community. This program is an incredible learning opportunity that will allow our students to do just that, and I believe that it is important that we provide opportunities for our students to spread the Volunteer spirit worldwide,” said Sally Parish, director of the Center for Leadership and Service.
Parish believes that students on the trip will learn more about themselves and the world around them, and she said she looks forward to partnering with other organizations and departments across campus to make leadership and service an integral part of every single student’s experience.
Britton Sharp, UT alumnus and director of Collegiate Abbey, said the ministries are excited to give students the opportunity to live out the Volunteer Creed by helping some of the most vulnerable residents of Prague.
Students will immerse themselves in the city, learning about Czech culture, surveying campus community members at Czech Technical University and Charles University about city issues, touring local facilities that assist those in need, and meeting with local residents to hear about their experiences.
For instance, students will learn about Project Magdala, an effort coordinated through the Caritas of the Archdiocese of Prague, which secures aid for victims of domestic violence or human trafficking.
Additionally, students will partake in the “People of Prague” experience in which they will go out in the city to meet those affected by homelessness, bring them food, and hear their stories.
The students will reflect on their experiences and try to develop potential solutions to some of the issues they encountered. Trips organizers say students will gain insights and ideas by seeing how a different culture deals with universal problems such as homelessness and domestic violence.
Prague was chosen for the trip because it lies at a crossroads in Europe and is steeped in history and tradition.
“I have been to Prague as a tourist before and have seen all of the beautiful buildings and attractions,” said UT alumnus and UTK Cru senior staff member Ryan Collins. “Last year it hit me that all of the locations I visited had people living and working in them, and those people have needs. Our hope is that we can become aware of and help address those needs by serving during a trip.”
While UTK Cru has been involved in previous trips to Prague, this collaboration highlights the strengthening partnerships between campus ministries and other UT departments.
Katherine Saxon (firstname.lastname@example.org, 865-974-8365)