Breech Students Travel to Greece for Service Learning Over Winter Break

By: Kaitlyn Schwers

Ten Drury students had the opportunity to travel to the island of Aigina in Greece in January to study globalization and international issues at the Drury Center. Along with classroom learning overseas, the students also participated in service-learning with the Aigina community.

The trip and study abroad experience was organized and led by Dr. Robin Sronce, Associate Professor of Management and Director of Community Outreach and Leadership Development, Courtney Swan. The trip included various service projects such as working with the local food and clothing pantry, cleaning up a protected forest and river bed, and planting a community garden.

“We were very intentional about weaving service-learning into the trip to try and enhance what the students were learning as well as increase connections with the local community in Aigina through mutually beneficial partnerships,” Swan said. “For example, the students were not only reading and having classroom discussions about corporate social responsibility and leadership in a global context, but also getting to explore the issues with local leaders, businesses, and organizations experiencing them first-hand.  Then, we worked with local citizens and service organizations to identify and complete service projects tied to the issues being studied.”

Senior Emily Rhodes, an elementary education student, found that the service projects made the trip more unique because it allowed students to meet local people.

“We were completely immersed in the culture, which was amazing. I learned so much about their culture by being around all the Greeks and doing volunteer projects.” Rhodes said.

Some financial support for the service-learning portion of the trip came from a member of the Breech School of Business Advisory Board, Jane Bennett and her husband Tim. The Bennetts provided the students with funds to purchase supplies and equipment to make it possible for the service projects to take place.

Dr. Sronce, who provided class instruction, explained, “As a service-learning class, one of the points of the trip was to engage with the community and to do that we needed some funds for some of the projects we were doing.  For example planting the garden, which will supply winter vegetables for distribution by the Aigina volunteers, required some additional supplies.  Some of those things were donated by people on the island, for example the garden center donated the seeds. However, there were other things needed like garden hoses and tools to make the project work.”

The students met with citizens during the service projects, and they also met local business leaders. They took time to explore Greece and learn more from an economic perspective as Phillip Bodenschatz did, an accounting and finance major at the Breech School of Business.

Bodenschatz said, “[I] saw many of the ancient ruins of Athens, met with a couple different company leaders from the community of Aigina, and did some volunteer work for groups around the island of Aigina. I learned more about the current economic situation of Greece and what is being done to stimulate the economy back to where it was in the early 2000s.”

“The trip was extremely successful, with meaningful interactions between students and local citizens. I am looking forward to returning with the next group of Drury students in May,” Sronce said.

Visit www.drsroncevisitsgreece.wordpress.com to learn more about their trip to Greece and to see additional photos.