Service Learning Spring Break 2014
Instead of going to the beach for Spring Break some Community Campus students, including several from the LSA, went to Mud Creek. This was part of a service learning experience where students experienced life in some of the most impoverished parts of Appalachia.
Inspired by the book MUD CREEK MEDICINE—The Life of Eula Hall and Fight for Appalachia by Kiran Bhatraju, students called the 86-year old Eula Hall and decided to do what they could to help her Mud Creek Clinic. Eula Hall’s story shows how one woman can make a difference through understanding the nexus between politics, wealth, labor and disease. The book takes the reader through Eula’s experiences with moonshining, labor strikes and fighting against severe domestic abuse, to eventually build and manage her own healthcare clinic.
Eula Hall told the students that she needed supplies for their food pantry. Students and parents rallied the support of the Owensboro community and collected enough food, medical supplies and clothing to stock the clinic’s pantry for one month. When the students arrived at Mud Creek, they found the cupboards completely bare as Appalachia has been hit hard by the loss of over 60% of their cola jobs. Students stocked and organized the pantry then spent time visiting with Eula Hall.
When students asked her if she was ever intimidated by all the powerful politicians and labor leaders, she said, “No. I was shot at a few times, but if you really believe what you are doing is right, you got to stand up for people who can’t stand up for theirselves.”
The students, who plan careers in engineering or health care, also spent a day planting 465 trees on scarred mountan-top with Green Forests Work. They visited a coal mine and museum where they learned about the history of coal and its impact on the region. Nights were spent learning to play the dulcimer, folk dancing and listening to bluegrass music.
"Ms. Betty told us heartbreaking stories about her father who died young of black lung and her brother who was disabled from a mining accident while he was working two 12- hour shifts to get Christmas money for his kids. Talking with her gave me a look into how many families in that area live. She said, 'this is home and we don’t leave our family if we don’t have to.' This place may be poor in many ways, but it is rich in history, culture and beauty.” -Lexie Lindsay, age 15, Daviess County High School, Engineering Academy
“On this trip, I learned that Eastern Kentucky isn't just the backwood hollers that I originally thought it to be."
-Leslie Probus, age 14, Apollo High School, Life Science Academy
“I never would have thought Appalachia would be this full of life. I expected Appalachia to be a fading community. It was much to my surprise that I came to realize that living here is just the opposite; vigorous, patriotic people with artistic influences at every turn.”
-Lucy Kurtz, age 15, Owensboro Catholic High School, Life Science Academy
“This was definitely one of the best experiences I have ever had. People of Appalachia are passionate about their home. I thought this was going to be another boring mission trip but as soon as we got here my mind as completely changed. I have loved every minute of it. We say we are here to help these people but they are helping us. There is much to be done in this region and we can’t help everyone but can help someone.”
-Emily Linn, age 15, Owensboro Catholic High School, Life Science Academy
“We learned e could have fun, work hard and made a difference. We learned that we can manage without television or electronic devices.”
-Angel Phillabaum, age-15, Daviess County High School, Engineering Academy
“We met Josh May who heard a song on the Appalshop radio when he was a little boy. The song inspired him to learn to play the banjo, then go away to get a college education and move back to the mountains he loved in Whitesburg, KY. He now runs Appalsop. He screened the Eula Hall movie in the Appalshop theatre for us. After watching the movie we were better prepared to interview Ms. Hall when we met her at her clinic.”
-Madison Baughn, age 15, Apollo High School, Engineering Academy
“We learned ho music can create relationships amongst strangers. We met “banjo man” who showed us how music can be influenced by the migration of people, geography of land, and evolution of tools. He shoed us how music has the ability to build bridges between totally opposite people.”
-Makailah Cecil, age 15, Apollo High School, Life Science Academy
Community Campus is a partnership with regional school districts, colleges and business community. The goal is to inspire students in high demand career pathways through real world projects, problem solving, service learning and team building.