COLUMN: Students can use spring break to focus, serve

Monday, April 18, 2011 | 12:07 p.m. CDT
Aimee Hall, Andrew Jenkins, Laura Li and Austin Fax make up the column-writing team of The Holy Roarers.

Editor's note: This team-written column is one in a series of five on spring break, all written from a different life perspective.

Boozing on the beaches, showing off skin in the warm sun, flirtatious behavior with members of the opposite sex — these are all common misconceptions about what spring break is for college students. Adults tend to despise spring break. Whether it is their propensity to be jealous of college carelessness or their judging eyes being cast on the assumed debauchery, those who aren't able to break in spring tend to think the worst of those who are.

Meet the Holy Roarers

Not your typical “preachy religious kids,” Andrew Jenkins, Austin Fax, Aimee Hall and Laura Li look to examine hot topics in today’s society from a Biblical perspective. Hailing from different backgrounds, these four will delve into complex topics, all the while trying to make sense out of the one thing that matters most in their lives: faith.

Li is a senior magazine major at MU who worked the neighborhoods beat at the Missourian. She is a communications co-chair for the Asian Christian Fellowship.

Fax is a junior convergence journalism major who has done narrative writing and multimedia work for the Missourian. He is an active leader in the nondenominational group Campus Crusade for Christ.

Hall worked the Douglass Park neighborhood beat for the Columbia Missourian in 2010. She is a member of Chi Alpha, a nondenominational Christian organization on campus.

Jenkins is a senior majoring in print journalism with minors in geography, film studies and religious studies. He has worked at the Columbia Missourian as a reporter, copy editor and designer, and he is currently a teaching assistant on the interactive copy desk.

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Contrary to popular belief, spring break is used by many college students as an outlet to refuel before finals week. Straight months of class would drive even the most dedicated student insane. Spring break also provides opportunity for students to better their communities by giving back in their week off.

MU has its own Alternative Spring Break program, which started in 2003, and sent a group of more than 190 students to 17 locations around the country this year. Participants spent the week working on service projects, which they say are hard but rewarding labor. Students who participate in these kinds of projects are not unlike the growing number of couples who volunteer instead of vacation for their honeymoons. Efforts like these are telling of the potential that college students fulfill every year.

We can all learn lessons from spring break. God commands in Psalm 46, "Be still, and know that I am God." Stillness is something we all lack in our hectic culture today. Luckily, we have the perfect example of stillness in Jesus Christ. Although he was constantly busy, Jesus took a break to pray and get in touch with the Heavenly Father before every difficult decision he made. He believed breaks were necessary to keep people focused on the right things in life.

Running the risk of sounding trite, everyone could gain a lot from thinking about thinking, focusing on focusing and concentrating on concentrating. Self-examining one's cognitive traits could reveal why it's difficult to zero in on God. It's all too common for one's mind to drift while meditating or praying. That's a side effect of today's rat-race world.

These are only some of the many ways that many students of faith choose to spend their time resting during spring break. For many students, spring break is just that — a time to gather their thoughts, catch their breaths and meditate. After all, finals are only about a month away.

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