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Students lend helping hand through service-learning

What’s better than just traveling to great locations?
 
“Getting to know the local people and hearing their stories,” said Macy Galante, Glenbrook South sophomore.
 
Galante recently participated in a SaLT (Service and Learning Travel) Spring Break trip to New Orleans where she and about 20 other local students worked to restore housing damaged from Hurricane Katrina (2005) and a tornado that occurred only a few months ago.


 
“Hurricane Katrina was so long ago but the destruction was still evident,” Galante said. “It was difficult to look at.”
 
Nicole Baker, also a sophomore at GBS, said the trip was life-changing.
 
“We did 30 to 35 hours of service,” Baker said. “The homeowners were very thankful for our help.”
 
SaLT was started about two years ago by local educators in an effort to help students find ways to serve outside of their zip code. The organization’s mission is to “create uniquely meaningful student travel experiences that meet the needs of a local community while promoting personal growth and understanding.”
 
SaLTrips – SaLTinNOLA (Spring Break), SaLTinALASKA (Summer) and SaLTinORLANDO (Winter) – are not sponsored by just one school which allows students to attend from multiple schools throughout the greater Chicago area. Students provide service during the day and then enjoy the location attractions in the evening. All chaperones are veteran educators who are passionate about service-learning and the culture of the local community.
 
This past Presidents Day weekend, students from Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South participated in a SaLTrip to Walt Disney World in Orlando. The students served Make-A-Wish Foundation families who were staying at Give Kids the World Village.


 
“I thought the Disney trip would be an eye-opening experience, and it really was,” said Zoe Galis, a junior at Glenbrook North. “The kids were so happy to be there that they forgot about their illness. They were just there to have fun.”
 
Emma Schwartz-Dodek, a sophomore at Glenbrook South, also attended the Orlando trip.
 
“One day I just talked to the kids for six hours,” Schwartz-Dodek said. “I’ve always wanted to be a teacher when I’m older and I think any interaction with kids, like SaLT, will help me toward that goal.”
 
The next SaLTrip will be SaLTinALASKA from July 23 to 31. The students will work in collaboration with the Tlingit and Haida tribes of Juneau to conserve Alaska’s pristine landscapes as they also learn about the lifestyles and traditions of the indigenous culture.
 
Registration for SaLTinALASKA is open through May 15. Call SaLT co-founder Brad Swanson at 847-745-9706, email saltstudenttravel@gmail.com or visit saltstudenttravel.com for more information.