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International African American Museum takes a novel approach to spring break


Charleston, S.C. – In early March, the International African American Museum (IAAM) welcomed students from the College of Charleston, Benedict College, and the College of the Holy Cross as participants in its first annual Alternate Spring Break (ASB) program.

IAAM’s ASB program gives students an alternative to the typical spring break affording them the opportunity to engage in social, racial, and environmental justice advocacy through direct service, group discussion, experiential learning, and individual reflection. Students participating in the program travel to Charleston, South Carolina, to take part in on-site museum projects and to engage in off-site projects with community organizations. The goal is to enhance knowledge and understanding of the untold stories of the African American journey at one of our country’s most sacred sites.

IAAM’s Education Department received a donation from Tom and Nancy Maher of Pisgah Investments Foundation to initiate and implement this program. Their generous funding helped cover all participant costs related to transportation, lodging, food, and other expenses.

Felice Knight, PhD, director of education at IAAM commented, “I couldn’t have been more pleased with the outcome of the program. It was an extraordinary opportunity to expose a diverse group of students to the rich history and culture of African Americans in the Lowcountry. As a former college professor, I know how infrequently college students get a chance to engage in experiential learning. I’m so glad to have been able to provide an enriching experience to students in this way.”

This year’s program was held March 3 – March 10. Participants were selected following an application process in early January. Those seeking more information on the program can email the IAAM Education Department at education@iaamuseum.org.

“The IAAM team has structured a comprehensive and engaging Alternative Spring Break Program, which will be so compelling to colleges and universities throughout the United States. We feel fortunate to help create and sustain this program and are so grateful for the talented IAAM team and their careful curation of an amazing week for these students. This will be an impactful and transformative experience for all students fortunate to participate in this program,” noted Tom Maher.

The International African American Museum (IAAM) explores the history, culture, and impact of the African American journey on Charleston, the nation, and the world, shining light and sharing stories of the diverse journeys, origin, and achievements of descendants of the African Diaspora. Across eleven galleries and a memorial garden with art, objects, artifacts, and multi-media interaction, IAAM is a champion of authentic, empathetic storytelling of American history. As a result, the museum will stand as one of the nation’s newest platforms for the disruption of institutionalized racism as it evolves today. The mission of IAAM is to honor the untold stories of the African American journey at the historically sacred site of Gadsden’s Wharf and beyond. For more information, please visit iaamuseum.org or call 843-872-5352.

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