The ability to travel is a grand prospect. Being able to experience different cultures and then share them with those back home diversifies awareness. Sophomores Samantha Vang, Awushie Fayose and Jeanetta Langhorne are three Diversity Education Exploration Project (D.E.E.P) members who strive to build long lasting relationships through the program’s diversity of students. D.E.E.P’s mission statement looks to “develop first hand experiences, encompassing conversations of continuing education, thematic cultural exploration, and a strategic service learning project.”
The program is in its second year and has 60 members who participate in 15 hours of community service during the Arizona’s project duration. Emphasizing an awareness, D.E.E.P creates a diversified social group with a common interest in traveling for experience.
The theme that D.E.E.P is focusing on this year is child hunger. D.E.E.P members have the opportunity this Spring Break to travel to Arizona where they will volunteer at the United Food Bank and St. Mary’s Food Bank, visit Northern Arizona University, and culturally explore the area with a Native American focus, particularly on the Hopi Tribe. The program raised money for the trip help from both Gustavus Adolphus College and the D.E.E.P board members through fundraisers.
“D.E.E.P’s purpose is to explore the vast cultures of the U.S., learn more about graduate programs and raise awareness about social justice issues in order to promote action,” Langhorne said.
Previously, the group traveled to four cities in Missouri, Tennessee, and Louisana on an exploratory trip over Spring Break.
The members actively seek to utilize food that grocery stores toss out by having the grocer send the food to the food shelves and food banks instead. Members were a part of “Rake the Town,” an event where volunteers raked St. Peter residents’ leaves. The group also requires that each member contributes 15 hours of community service.
They recently had a presentation on Nov. 12 by Mikka McCracken ‘09 who discussed hunger around the U.S and the world. McCraken is currently a Program Director for the non-profit organization the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) World Hunger.
Between Dec. 12-13, D.E.E.P will host a silent auction, in which all proceed will go to food banks fighting against hunger.
Fundraisers allow D.E.E.P members to reduce the cost of travel, giving them the chance to impact the places they visit as well as share their findings with the Gustavus Community.
“I just love traveling. To make it affordable is to create a really great opportunity to gain an insightful awareness of the U.S,” Vang said.