INVST Summer Service Learning Experiences

INVST students participated in one of two Summer Service Learning Experiences this summer. The Domestic Summer Service Learning Experience began with a wilderness adventure in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, where students developed a connection with the natural world. This backpacking excursion was co-facilitated by CU’s Outdoor Program.

Students continued Southwest to learn about the impacts of oil and gas development in Colorado, and examined innovative solutions through sustainable technologies. Glenwood, New Castle, and Parachute, Colorado along with Moab, Utah were all stops on this journey. Deepening the exploration of energy issues they visited the Diné Nation in Northeastern Arizona. Here INVST students spent time with the Johnson family for the 14th consecutive year, serving and learning about the social and environmental impacts of the coal mining industry on indigenous people and places. They also visited a coal power generating station in Page, Arizona.

In Paonia and Hotchkiss, Colorado, students studied organic farming while staying at a fruit tree orchard. They volunteered with Delicious Orchards, a family-owned business that makes Big B's fresh-pressed apple cider, experiencing first-hand some sustainable ways of living and working the earth. Students also learned about water issues affecting our region. Finally, the month ends in Denver, where INVST students have the opportunity to engage political officials. Throughout the month, the students have considered how energy and the U.S. economy interact, looking for innovative solutions to contemporary environmental problems.

The International Summer Service Learning Experience gives INVST students the opportunity to learn about immigration and economic globalization.  Students observed the impact of U.S. policy on neighboring nations.  After training in intercultural communication, orientation and extensive reading, students spent time at the U.S.-Mexico border where they volunteered with Annunciation House in El Paso, Texas. Annunciation House, our partner since 1993, is a shelter for refugees seeking political asylum.  There, students served with recent immigrants from Central America and political refugees from all over the world. A last-resort shelter for human beings in desperate need of basic care, Annunciation House approaches guests with compassion and INVST students learned for one week about border dynamics and immigration issues, encountering individuals and families and hearing their stories, as well as meeting with people in legal clinics, women’s rights and worker rights centers, as well as the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Border Patrol.

Students then traveled to Managua, Nicaragua with Witness for Peace. This was INVST's second year working in this capacity with this community partner. Students learned, in the second poorest country in our hemisphere, about Fair Trade, Free Trade and economic relationships and models that connect the United States with Nicaragua. Students met with various individuals and organizations to discuss the maquiladoras (factories) in Free Trade Zones.  They became informed about alternative economic models, and met community leaders in both urban and rural Nicaragua. Finally, students explored how women are affected by globalization and they examined projects in Nicaraguan communities that attempt to follow a different development path.