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Ronald Porter
Acting Director of Service Learning

Eckerd College
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711

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Service Learning

Service Learning

Miami: Spring Break 09


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Over spring break, twelve students from Eckerd College and Associate Chaplain Andrew Black traveled to Ft. Lauderdale/ Miami to explore the complex intersection of HIV/AIDS, Poverty, Race, and Immigration while directly serving those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. According to the Center for Disease Control, Florida ranks 3rd among states for people living with AIDS while Miami and Ft. Lauderdale currently rank 1st and 2nd consecutively for cities with the highest AIDS rates in the Nation.

After making the drive from St. Petersburg to Fort Lauderdale we arrived at First Congregational Church, Fort Lauderdale, our host church that was incredibly hospitable and does a tremendous amount of social justice work in the community. Our week of service began, on Sunday with the students walking alongside Eckerd Alumni in the 6.6 mile Ft. Lauderdale AIDS Walk. As part of the Walk, the students raised over three hundred dollars to benefit the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. On Monday and Tuesday, we worked at Broward House, a residential HIV/AIDS facility, where we built a community garden and painted two residential rooms. The staff at Broward House helped us unpack and offered personal examples of how they have seen the intersection of HIV/AIDS, Poverty, Race, and Immigration. The students had the opportunity to sit in on an HIV/AIDS counseling and support group where they heard the stories of those infected first hand and were given opportunities to engage in one-on-one conversation with the House's residents. On Wednesday, the students worked in the food bank and thrift store at Poverello Center, which serves those living with HIV/AIDS. Students also served at the Children's Diagnostic Treatment Center, where they offered HIV+ mothers a relaxation retreat consisting of an afternoon of manicures, pedicures, facials, hand massages and arts and crafts. We also toured the Broward County jail and learned about the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases in America's jails and prisons. Following each day of service, the students spent time reflecting and unpacking their day to deepen their experience. However, the week was not all work and no play for the students went on a Everglades Airboat Tour, visited South Beach, Miami and spent time relaxing in Coconut Grove and taking in the sights, smells and tastes of Little Havana. All in all, the trip was a rewarding and transformative experience that was both powerful and fun.

View photos from Miami

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