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No break for UTC spring breakers
By Angelika Cartwright, MOT
Apr 10, 2012 - 9:29:17 AM

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Nassau,  Bahamas - Instead of sunbathing all day and partying all night, a small group of civic-minded students from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) used their spring break to make a positive impact on the Bahamian community.

The group of eight students and two teachers recently traveled to Nassau seeking a week-long alternative spring break experience, which included a beach clean-up at Coral Harbour and visits to Government High School and the Ranfurly Homes for Children. This initiative was executed in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism’s People-to-People department and the Bahamas National Coastal Awareness Committee.  The students are also fraternity and sorority members and ended up visiting The Bahamas through an International Exploration of Social Justice and Civic Engagement course at UTC.

“We hope to make this an annual tradition and a partnership between our universities and the local agencies we served this week,” group leader, Sara Jahansouz said. “We hope that this is something that we can continue, to make an impact on the lives of Bahamians while they continue to make an impact on the lives of our college students.”

Ms. Jahansouz said that the most memorable part of the trip for her was the Ranfurly Homes visit.  The university students attended St. Andrew’s Kirk with the Ranfurly children and helped the residences to prepare for annual inspections, lending a hand with yard work and extensive cleaning.
“I think working with the Bahamian children has been the most profound aspect of this experience for each and every one of us,” Jahansouz said.  “The children’s spirits are so incredibly kind and so warm and they have welcomed us into their community.”

Two of the UTC students had never seen the ocean and as a higher education professional, Jahansouz said it was one of her proudest moments.

Derrick McGhee, an accounting major at UTC, enjoyed the Bahamian cuisine most of all.

“It just seems like everything is refreshing here,” McGhee said.

He plans to inform other students about his visit to The Bahamas and share his experiences about the group’s social activities during their trip.

“This here is eye opening, life changing and it allows you to affect something and make a difference in something that can help you out in life later on,” he said.

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