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"Physical labor is a great way to get to know
someone. Carrying heavy logs up a slippery, muddy path to the top of a
hill is a particularly good way to build community."
"We owe it to our students to give
them the best education possible, and that includes thinking about ways
to do a better job of integrating the spiritual and service into the curriculum."
Steve Webb is professor of philosophy and religion at Wabash. Read his
essay from the Fordham Urban Law JournalDefending
All-Male Education: A New Cultural Moment for a Renewed Debate
Contact Professor Webb at firstname.lastname@example.org
for Wabash Students
by Stephen H. Webb
Ive learned a lot from my students over the years,
but never so much as during the Alternative Spring Break trip last March.
Hard, physical labor is a great way to get to know someone.
Carrying heavy logs up a slippery, muddy path to the top of a hill is
a particularly good way to build community. On the top of that hill, just
where you have the best view of a lake resting in the midst of some well-rounded
mountains, we laid the foundations for an outdoor chapel.
Wabash Avenue Presbyterian Church Pastor John Van Nuys 84 and I
took twelve students to the Hinton Center in the heart of Appalachia.
The Center ministers to impoverished rural families by providing volunteer
teams to do light home repair and improvement.
It turned out to be a journey of discovery and fellowship for all of us.
All of the students had taken at least one religion class, but many of
them did not know each other, and some had not traveled outside the state.
After a long day of work and some basketball, we would gather for devotions
and discuss the days activities. One student commented that the
trip had helped him reconnect with God after an extended period of spiritual
Taking time away from school to do something for others in a context that
encourages reflection on spiritual and ethical values should be a part
of every college education. Travel to other countries is important, but
trips that demand hard work for the good of others build community and
Sharing stories around a bonfire and singing hymns together is a pedagogical
experience I will not soon forget.
Many of our students have had some experience with service projects and
want to build on those experiences. Our trip to Appalachia convinced me
that such trips are so important that they should become an integral part
of the Wabash experience.
We owe it to our students to give them the best education possible, and
that includes thinking about ways to do a better job of integrating the
spiritual and service into the curriculum.
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