Jailed for a Good Cause: Annual Event Funds Service Trip for Mount Union College Students

April 08, 2010

On Wednesday, April 3, some Mount Union College faculty, staff and students found themselves "jailed" in the Hoover-Price Campus Center.


Dr. Steve Kramer's Social Responsibility and Well-Being Class held their annual "Jail n' Bail" to raise money to pay for expenses incurred during their recent spring break service trip to El Salvador. Throughout the day, members of the campus community could pay $1 to have someone jailed for a short period of time. The person jailed can either pay $2 to prevent being jailed, $1 to be bailed out or carry out the duration of the sentence (approximately 15 minutes). Additionally, the person jailed can pay $1 to find out who had them jailed.

The event is always successful, and the money goes to a good cause. During this year's spring break at the college (March 2 - 9), Dr. Kramer, professor of psychology at Mount Union, and the students in the Social Responsibility and Well-Being Class journeyed to El Salvador.

The work trip became a vision of Dr. Kramer's eleven years ago as part of the course work of his Social Responsibility and Well-Being Class. He designed the course to make students more aware of the value of service. He notes that "those with a higher sense of well-being are more socially responsible."

The class has been traveling to El Salvador for the last four to five years. This year the trip was to Mal Paso, in El Salvador, which is Spanish for "bad pass." The community is near the border of Guatemala.

"This trip is beneficial because it helps students develop a sense of the world as their community, instead of just Alliance or their hometown," said Dr. Kramer.

For the duration of their stay, the work trip group stayed in two mud huts. Sleeping bags were put down on the floor and everyone slept in one room in each hut. The actual work consisted of helping to build latrines for the people in Mal Paso's community.

"Most people in small villages don't have personal latrines, which is a health problem," Dr. Kramer commented. The work not require a lot of skill, but some of it was difficult. The ground used for the latrines was very rocky, and sometimes people would have to dig nine feet down.

The village's citizens would come out to watch the group work. According to student participant Melissa Fleming, a junior from Delaware, OH, "the people of Mal Paso let us be part of their lives. They worked beside us, let us make tortillas with them, invited us to church, and shared the stories of their lives with us."

Dr. Kramer believes that this is another of the trip's purposes; that those on it become more connected with people from another culture. Not only did the trip make students become more connected to the village's citizens, but helped them to learn what life is really like in a third-world country.

Sophomore Andrew Lattaner, from Granger, IN, "realized how lucky we are here in America to have the good health care, education, and healthy living conditions." Charlotte Bates, a senior from Alliance, agreed that even though they stayed in Mal Paso for just one week, observing the culture and customs of the Mal Paso's citizens taught them a lot. "I feel that we gained so much more from the experience living in the environment and doing what they do every day," Bates said.

The annual work trip is supplemental in fulfilling an aim from the social responsibility course, which is, according to Dr. Kramer, "making the world a better place."

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