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For many students, spring break is a vacation, a time to visit families, friends, bars or beaches. Some, however, find ways to transform their spring breaks into opportunities to help those in need while still enjoying the break from their studies.
Mississippi State University student Rudi Acklin, for example, is going to Panama City for the break, but itâ€™s not because sheâ€™s looking for a tan.
â€śIâ€™ve actually never visited the common beaches that most people go to for spring break,â€ť Acklin said. â€śFor spring breaks, I usually visit home, or visit my sister who lives in Miami.â€ť
Acklin is going on a MSU mission trip that will bring worship classes, devotionals, bible classes and songs to Panama City. She said the work would take up most of the week, but for her, it would still be a vacation.
â€śAll of my life encompasses things that come from my faith,â€ť Acklin said. â€śI would much rather be spending my spring break doing something that I love and enjoy doing and is pleasing in the sight of God rather than doing things other kids my age would be doing. Those arenâ€™t necessarily things Iâ€™m interested in doing.â€ť
She also said the itinerary did have some room for her and her fellow students to unwind, and she looks forward to it. The itinerary for the trip includes a cookout, swimming in rainforests and rivers, and a visit to the Panama Canal Museum, and a glimpse into one of Panamaâ€™s more traditional cultures at Embera Village.
â€śThere will be arts and crafts and song and dance and everything for us,â€ť Acklin said. â€śThat time will just be kind of peaceful, time for us to relax and enjoy their culture. Weâ€™ll have a little bit of time, because everything weâ€™re doing, theyâ€™ll be doing it with us.
Another MSU student is headed to San Diego, Calif. on a different kind of mission. Dorothy Damm will visit Tim Read, a U.S. Marine and 2007 Starkville High School graduate whose left leg was amputated in the aftermath of an IED explosion in Marjah, Afghanistan. Read is undergoing prosthetic rehabilitation in San Diego, and Damm said she was extremely excited to see one of her closest friends from high school.
â€śHeâ€™s my best friend, and I miss him, and I love him,â€ť Damm said.
Damm said she had been contacted about visiting Read by the Semper Fi Fund, a nonprofit that provides financial support and resources to injured and ill members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. One interview later, she said, the Semper Fi fund had agreed to pay for her plane ticket to and from San Diego.
â€śI am so gracious and so thankful for the opportunity to go see Tim, and theyâ€™re providing it for me,â€ť Damm said.
She said she was also excited to be able to explore San Diego with Read, including the San Diego Zoo.