Organization plans service trip to Alaska

Lara Iriarte

 From wilderness tours and beaches to glacier treks and whale watching, each day of Stevenson’s upcoming summer trip to Alaska will be packed with sightseeing of some of the most sought after travel destinations in America.

The eight day excursion in June 2016, run through an organization known as Serving and Learning Together (SaLT), will provide service opportunities for students to be immersed in a new culture as well as experience the best of nature that Alaska has to offer.

“Students will earn a semester of service learning credit through this trip,” said Brett Erdmann, Community Service Director and trip chaperone. “Although service is a big aspect of the trip, we will be doing a lot of tourism as well.”

While whale watching, glacier hiking and other adventurous activities are on the agenda, students will be involved in service projects pertaining to the Tlingit and Haida Native American tribes where they will be immersed in their culture and history.

“What’s unique about SaLT is that we promote the ability for students to make a difference for a specific community,” Brad Swanson, Co-founder of SaLT, said. “As visitors, we will truly learn about their culture through service, and have the importance of on-going service in our community as a personal take-away.”

Having inhabited the Juneau area for centuries, the Tlingit and Haida tribes are creating an interactive cultural center for tourists and members of the tribes. Stevenson volunteers will assist the Central Council of Tribes in constructing the cultural center. Through this experience, the students will gain insight on Tlingit and Haida daily life and history.

“The Central Council describes the cultural center as an interactive park,” Swanson said. “There will be presentations, artists, carvers, dancers and musicians to portray traditional aspects of the tribes.”

The joint service-tourism basis for the trip is unlike any that Stevenson has done in the past. The idea behind both the iconic landscape and cultural introductions to Native Americans is to give the Stevenson community the opportunity to reflect on their experiences and have something to take away from the trip.

“Kids will benefit a lot from learning about a culture and environment so unlike their own,” Erdmann said. “Alaskan way of life is completely different, so the trip really gives a different perspective on things.”