Volunteering fun and worthwhile, at home and elsewhere

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By Taylor Powell

A group of more than 40 Butler students traveled to New Orleans over Thanksgiving break in order to help the Hurricane Katrina rebuild effort, tour the city and celebrate diversity.
Butler’s Diversity Center, located in Atherton 004, sponsored the 2013 Volunteer-Study Tour for a randomly selected group of students—a mix of international, Diversity Center organization members, Greek and various other Butler students.
Throughout the trip, students participated in a haunted history tour, alligator tour, went to a Hurricane Katrina museum and much more.
The trip was not only educational, but also rewarding and fun.
Students also had the chance to experience the diverse and lively Bourbon Street area and immerse themselves in the culture of the city at the annual Po Boy Festival.
On the final day of the tour, students split into three groups. Each group traveled to a different home in the ninth ward to help finish houses so the owners could move back in before the holidays.
Valerie Davidson and Bobbie Gibson, director and assistant director of the Diversity Center, respectively, served as advisors on the trip.
Gibson said her favorite part, other than the volunteering, was the bus ride home. During it, there was more chatter between students who may not have spoken to each other on the ride down.
“There are students who walk across campus every day that don’t speak to one another, don’t know each other,” Gibson said. “And I think what this trip does is it brings people together, people who ordinarily would not have anything in common.”
When I transferred to Butler University, the Diversity Center played a pivotal role in my efforts to make friends and locate campus resources.
This was not because I am a minority, but because the center is welcoming to all students.
That being said, students from different years in school, different majors and different parts of campus were able to provide me with assistance in areas a pamphlet or website would otherwise not be able to.
This trip was just another advantage of having such an excellent Diversity Center.
The cost was only $130, making it quite affordable.
However, raising the trip cost to this year’s price was hard for the Diversity Center directors, Gibson said.
Her hope is that the trip continues to grow, and for a possible spring trip in the coming years.
“We can do anything we want if we have the money,” Gibson said. “Part of it is that we want it accessible to students… We can’t make it a $500 or $600 trip. That’s ludicrous.”
Butler should recognize the importance of the annual Volunteer-Study Tour, and take into consideration more funding for a second yearly trip.
Seeing the smile on my team’s homeowner’s face was worth the bus breakdown, rain and cold weather. She was genuinely thankful for our help.
Nothing brings people together  more than making change.

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