At UW-Eau Claire we believe strongly in the power of experiential learning — those types of immersive experiences that not only teach but help a story, a process, a concept or a history to truly be absorbed by the learner. When deep understanding is crucial, there is no replacement for immersive learning.
With this in mind, Jodi Thesing-Ritter, executive director for diversity and inclusion at UW-Eau Claire, developed a flagship immersion program at the university. The Civil Rights Pilgrimage is a unique opportunity to travel the path of the civil rights movement and literally walk through pivotal places and stories in our history.
Each year the university offers two Civil Rights Pilgrimage trips to explore issues of social justice and the history of the civil rights movement in the United States. The trips for this academic year, both of which still have open registration, will take place from Jan. 10-20 and from March 20-29, 2020. Participants will travel by bus to Atlanta, Georgia; Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Gulfport and Jackson, Mississippi; New Orleans, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Memphis, Tennessee.
The cost of the trip is $750 for each participant and includes transportation, lodging, museum admission and some meals. A $75 deposit is required at the time of registration.
Community members in the Chippewa Valley area or even friends or family members of participating students are invited to register and take advantage of this well-curated and affordable way to see, hear and learn about the civil rights movement from the experts, many of whom lived through it in these cities and can share powerful firsthand experiences.
Susan Huston, a teacher in the Eau Claire Area School District, took part in the spring 2018 Civil Rights Pilgrimage with her son, then an eighth-grader. For her, it was a deeply powerful experience both personally and professionally, and she was glad to have shared the learning with her son.
"The Civil Rights Pilgrimage immersed me in the history of the civil rights movement, allowing me to learn so much more than I could through reading or watching a documentary. Taking this journey opened my eyes to the fact that I need to do a better job being culturally relevant in the classroom as well as in my everyday life," Huston said.
See the Civil Rights Pilgrimage website for more details and the link to register. The immersion is richer for all involved when the bus is full and there are a variety of voices to share and process this often emotional and transformative experience.
Sign up now while spots remain! Both January and March trips have space for more travelers.