Throughout the United States, many colleges and universities are either conducting classes online or closing their doors temporarily or permanently for the rest of the academic year. All of these changes or closures have been made to combat the spread of COVID-19, otherwise known as the novel coronavirus.
The Jacksonville State University Office of Housing and Residence Life announced on Tuesday morning that all residence halls will remain open for spring break. The university announced the day prior that spring break will be extended by two days, beginning Thursday, March 19.
Spring Break for Jacksonville State is quickly picking approaching and will be here before any of us know it. Spring Break is a time for students to unwind and relax a bit doing various activities ranging from sleeping in to taking a trip. It’s not uncommon for most of us to eagerly plan ahead to try and swipe up all the good hotel rooms for a weekend getaway, but if you’ve been a bit preoccupied with classes and extracurricular activities you might have been a bit too busy to even attempt to plan anything. Never fear, there are plenty of exciting endeavors to fill your week no matter your budget.
Starting off with the cheapest, and the most appealing option in my opinion…being lazy! This semester has definitely been one for the books—the crazy weather, continuation of construction and demanding coursework can make spending a week off and sleeping in till noon sound like pure bliss. Picture it. Monday, spring break. The alarm is nonexistent, you get those precious extra hours of sleep, and then you’re able to wake up and lay in bed for who knows how long. Go ahead and binge-watch that show you’ve been wanting to catch up on, or read a book if that’s your cup of tea. Just relax. Sounds nice, right?
Maybe you’re not into the whole couch potato scene, no worries. Let’s talk about an option for the adventurists. Though the Alabama weather tends to be a bit unpredictable, I’m sure there’ll be at least a couple of days during the week we have off that we could use to our advantage. Man, I hope I didn’t just jinx us. Anyways let’s list a couple of not-so-far-away outdoor activities we could partake in. Alabama is gifted with the beautiful scenery that Cheaha State Park has to offer. It has the works: hiking/biking trails, campgrounds, picnic pavilions, etc. Spring break is the ideal time to take in the beautiful nature surrounding the area. Oh, don’t forget to possibly check out Noccalula Falls as well. It has the same amenities as Cheaha, just mix in some mini-golf. Moving on from the whole state park aspect of outdoor activities, let me mention the numerous lakes that are scattered throughout the state. Again, with the erratic weather Alabama is known for, there’s no sense of certainty that any lake activities will be achievable over spring break, but it’s always nice to keep them in the back of our minds. The list for lake activities never really comes to an end it would seem. You have canoeing/kayaking, fishing, swimming (obviously), and maybe even a bit of boating. Just take advantage of the free time and the (hopefully) desirable weather. Lie in a hammock for an hour or two, develop a sun-kissed tan, savor the indication that summer is just around the corner.
Onto the next category of spring break activities, which might make your wallet just a tad bit thinner. An easy, slightly more affordable alternative to going to the beach or on a cruise would be going to an amusement park—no, not one halfway around the world. Let’s think closer. Perhaps Six Flags Over Georgia? Most of us have been. Who doesn’t enjoy thrilling rollercoasters and slightly overpriced, yet deilicious, food? I know I do. Grab a couple of friends who have nothing else going on and pile into a car. Drive on over to Georgia and enjoy the sick rides and sweet shows.
I know, I know…spring break = beach. Believe me I get it. It seems as if everybody’s first choice for spring break shenanigans includes making a trip to the beach. There’s just something about taking ‘gram worthy pictures with the ocean waves in the background. The beach is always a popular option. Most people in Alabama who are in the process of setting up a beach vacation usually picture going to Panama City Beach, or maybe even Fort Walton, which are both in Florida. Take the time to tally up the extra dollars it takes to make it all the way to Florida and you’ll be happy to know that there’s a cheaper, and closer beach right here in Alabama. That’s right, Gulf Shores. So if you’re just DYING to taste the salty air and watch the ocean waves roll in just ride on down to Orange Beach and enjoy yourself.
Hopefully with a few new ideas up in the air for spring break you’ll be able to enjoy yourself a bit more. Only one more week standing between spring break and us. We got this.
“How would you deal with poverty if a homeless person was in front of you right now? What would you do to help them?” That was the question posed to some of JSU’s students over Spring Break.
On Saturday, March 17, nine Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) students, campus minister Grant Carroll and intern Matt Duraski, headed South to New Orleans on a mission trip where students learned about the reality of poverty and how to address issues that impoverished people face.
Many of the students responded to the above question with solutions such as giving money, supplies and material possessions to the person. However, over the course of the week, they learned that doing so only pacifies the continuing need that people in poverty face.
Giving material things to those in poverty demeans them and lowers their self-worth and how they see themselves.
The real solution is to treat those in poverty like human beings instead of a problem to be solved. People need to talk with them, engage in a meaningful conversation about what they need and what they want out of life and then point them in the direction they need to go.
One example used was the Chinese proverb “You give a poor man a fish, and you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish, and you will give him an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime.”
“It was a privilege to see how St. Roch Church and St. Roch Community Development Corporation has been used by God to bring restoration and renewal to the Eighth Ward of New Orleans,” Carroll said. “When people are reconciled with their God through Christ, their relationship with themselves, others and the rest of creation can be restored. Ben McLeish, director of St. Roch CDC says we should give our life toward the renewal and restoration of our communities: that means our labor, our influence, our Finances and our experience.”
Spring Break in New Orleans was an eye opening and humbling experience for these nine students and their mentors.
“I think the best part of the trip was getting to bond with other people in my campus ministry,” said Jay Dial, a member of RUF. “A lot of us only see each other once a week at most, and we don’t get a chance to interact with everybody all the time. I really enjoyed being able to get to know people and make some friends.”
The well-known Smashmouth song “Allstar” was played numerous times during the trip and became a running joke within the group of students. One lyric—“You’ll never know if you don’t go”— summed up students’ experiences
Many friendships were forged within the group and with the people they met in New Orleans.
“I enjoyed the trip because of the people that went with me,” said Katie Peyton, another RUF member. “Our group worked together well and had a lot of fun.”
“Working for and with St. Roch Community Church in New Orleans has changed the way I view helping others,” added Molly Cash. “Getting to be in a low-income community and seeing the work that can be done through people’s time, love and commitment has made me realize material and monetary gifts are not always the best way of helping others. St. Roch has changed the way I view my church and our outreach into the community around us. It’s helped me to be sure my help is not actually hurting others or enabling them to live a life dependent on others. It’s made me re-think my approach to nearly every aspect of outreach and missions work, and I believe that change is for the better!”
RUF meets every Wednesday at 8 p.m. in Merrill Hall room 101. The group’s motto is “a rest stop for tired Christians and a safe place for skeptics.” RUF’s next trip will be May 8-13 to Summer Conference, or “SuCo,” in Panama City Beach.