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Fall break Staycation offers opportunity for students to explore South Bend

| Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Saint Mary’s students who are planning to remain on-campus for fall break have the opportunity to participate in the College’s third-annual “Staycation.”

Rebekah Go, director of the Office for Civic and Social Engagement (OCSE), said the idea for “Staycation” came to her thinking about students staying on campus for fall break, when the dining hall is closed.

“They were isolated and hungry,” Go said. “That made me really sad.”

Go said she wanted to use her role in OCSE to engage students in the community during fall break.

“[In the past] I think it’s been a meaningful group of students, in that they’ve all appreciated the opportunity that’s been provided because there hadn’t been anything else,” Go said.

She said there have been students who participated in “Staycation” during both of its previous years.

The cost of participating in “Staycation” activities is covered by the OCSE, but Go said there is a suggested donation of $5 per day.

Kris Choinacky, assistant director of OCSE, said “Staycation” will begin Sunday and conclude Thursday evening. Participants do not have to attend every activity and may choose any and all they want to do, she said.

The Staycation will open Sunday with a cookout at Choinacky’s house.

“We planned to make it casual and have a bonfire and pumpkin carving,” she said.

On Monday, participants will travel to nearby Potato Creek State Park.

“We have a naturalist who’s going to speak to us about the history of Potato Creek,” Choinacky said. “There’s also a prairie maze there that they have for the fall. We’re also going to have a picnic there and just get to know the state park.”

After that, participants will visit the west side of South Bend, where a speaker will give a talk about the revitalization occurring in the area, she said.

The Monday evening activities include making cards for the Sisters of the Holy Cross and having pizza delivered to campus, Choinacky said.

“We have scheduled a heritage tour at [the Church of Our Lady of Loretto] with the Sisters,” she said.

Tuesday evening, participants will have dinner at Go’s house and then attend a Second City benefit for Howard Park, Choinacky said.

“The Morris Performing Arts Center is bringing the Second City here for a benefit, and so I thought that really fit well with our mission here of helping out our parks department,” she said.

Students will also have the opportunity to participate in service projects in the community, Choinacky said.

“Anyone who wants to [can] come with me to Christ Child Society, where they offer free clothing to families,” she said. “A group of us would go and do that in the morning and then meet up afterwards for a light brunch at a downtown local restaurant.”

She said students will also get to take a percussion class at the Potawatomi Conservatory.

“[The conservatory has] Afro drumming with an instructor in the greenhouse,” she said.

Other planned events include walking to the Indiana University-South Bend campus and traveling to the west side of downtown, including the Washington District, Choinacky said.

“We would do a scavenger hunt in the different areas and go to the Studebaker Museum,” she said.

Throughout the week, Choinacky said students will visit local restaurants in different parts of South Bend.

“This is an opportunity to get our students out there to really embrace all the great things we have to offer in the South Bend region,” Choinacky said. “I want everyone to fall in love with South Bend the way I have, and if … the Staycation is the only time that [students] are able to really get outside of the Saint Mary’s campus, I’m glad they were able to do it with us.”

Having grown up locally, Choinacky said she loves South Bend and wishes to share this love with students.

Choinacky said registration for “Staycation” is currently under the attendance level necessary for the event to take place. She said students can contact her to register.

“I think it gets a little lonely if you’re here all week, so why not have all these fun things to do?” she said.

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