George Ashline

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Staff Service Trip Leader

What involvement did/do you have with MOVE? What program did/do you volunteer with and/or lead? What years?
Staff co-leader of service trips to Selma in 2002 and to Buffalo in 2009 and 2016.

What’s your MOVE story?
In Spring 2002, 2009 and 2016, while on sabbatical, I devoted part of each semester to service experiences in Selma, Alabama and Buffalo, New York. In this story, I will focus on the service trips to Buffalo.

In 2009, I was blessed to serve as one of the co-leaders of a wonderful group of Saint Michael’s students for the initial MOVE extended service trip to the Buffalo Nativity Miguel middle school. In 2016, I was a co-leader of another fantastic group of students to the same location.

Our work in Buffalo was at the grades five through eight middle school of Saint Monica Scholars Program for Young Women and Saint Augustine Scholars Program for Young Men, offering “a faith-based middle school transforming the lives of underserved students in a secure and nurturing environment on single gender campuses.” These middle schools are part of the Jesuit-based Nativity Miguel Coalition. We worked with Saint Monica Scholars and Saint Augustine Scholars, who were African-American and African refugees, immigrants, and new Americans.

During each trip, we made great personal connections with students and staff at each school and the local parish. We completed various tasks at each school and assisted with some of the classroom teaching. One memorable activity from the first trip was assisting with a project in which students wrote poems about violence in their lives and how to make the world more peaceful. We assisted with organizing events and after-school activities, including basketball games. At end of each day, we cooked and shared a meal and set aside time set for reflection planned by the student leader.

During our service weeks, the Saint Michael’s group resided at the Franciscan House at St. Lawrence, a former convent in a parish on the eastern side of Buffalo. In the initial trip, we also served the parish by painting the dining room and kitchen during our stay.

In what ways did/does MOVE impact you?
I found the experiences on these service trips very fulfilling. The opportunity to collaborate with students in meaningful service contexts is impactful in many ways.

As a professor, I strive to provide and support many ways for students to grow academically and holistically. Of course, this is an evolving endeavor varying from class to class and semester to semester.

MOVE’s extended service trips offer wonderful opportunities for extending the classroom to a much broader venue and for making us all more aware and connected to the needs, challenges, and gifts of the broader community.

I am fortunate to have been part of groups serving the Buffalo Nativity Miguel middle school more than once, as part of our initial trip and then another seven years later. I have heard from Buffalo trip participants in other years that we have deepened our service and connections there from year to year.

This service has also connected to my own teaching, such as my Math Education seminar course, featuring a significant community engaged learning component at the Boys and Girls Club or a local school.