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Alternative Spring Break

Interconnected: Rethinking Place and Community in Charleston, SC

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About The Trip: 

This trip seeks to explore the interrelated nature of several social injustices including housing injustice and homelessness, racial injustice and discrimination, and environmental injustice through a critical examination of how people conceptualize and interact with their “place” and their “community.” Who/what is deemed a part of the “community?” How do these conceptions impact policies and the livelihoods of living beings? From what conception of “community” is it possible that places in South Carolina see fit to fine a person experiencing homelessness asking passersby for change and to require enormous fees for non-profit shelters to even provide food? This trip will include an exploration of the darker side of Charleston’s history as a site of urban disregard for the environment as well as discrimination and racial injustice. Service projects will include housing development projects, volunteering with shelters for persons experiencing homelessness, habitat restoration and protection, and much more. Through these experiences, this trip will focus on how these related issues feed into each other rather than thinking about these social injustices as separate, distinct problems.

About the Social Justice Issue: 

We oftentimes conceptualize social justice issues as discrete, categories of service. Health literacy, environmental justice, sustainability, immigration; the list goes on. While highlighting the uniqueness of different problems is important, there is a tendency to forget the interconnected and mutually constitutive nature of these social injustices, potentially resulting in an incomplete understanding of how they manifest. Nowhere is this truer than in the way we think about the places and spaces of our communities, an often-underexplored—yet crucially important—center point of social justice. When making policy decisions and when developing our cities, there are those “inside” the community that decision-makers concern themselves with and there are those “outside” the community deemed disposable and not the subject of our concern. But who is on the inside? Who is outside? How do we come to those understandings? In Charleston and beyond, how people answer these questions are often filtered through the lens of privilege, systematic racism, xenophobia, and disregard for the non-human. Working towards a more holistic and inclusive understanding of these interconnected issues—and towards a more holistic and inclusive understanding of who is “inside” given our interconnected existences—is necessary for any sustainable, meaningful challenge to social injustices.

About the Leaders: 

Nate Sawyer is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences double majoring in Music Composition and Interdisciplinary Studies, exploring the mind-body science behind the Tibetan Buddhist concept of compassion. Half-Taiwanese Jew, he has pursued studies abroad in India and China, is enamored with his experiences volunteering abroad in Taiwan, and is a huge believer in Disney songs and Miyazaki films. A Volunteer Emory staff member, he is extremely excited to be leading his second alternative spring break trip.

Carolyn Perry is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences from Seattle, Washington. Carolyn is the secretary of Outdoor Emory and has led trips such as paddle boarding, camping, and apple picking through the club. She is a member of the Emory Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team and made the Southeast All-Freshman team last year. Carolyn spent the summer as a camp counselor back in Seattle. Carolyn has yet to decide her major but has decided that this trip to Charleston is going to be really freaking awesome.

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