A Look at London: Tourism and Volunteerism

bigbenWritten by and photographs by: Leah Grubb, APSU Junior, Corporate Communication

“Remember the most important souvenir will be your memories, and the best memories are the ones you make with others.” – Professor Mike Dunn

It’s been nearly four weeks since our service learning class returned from England. As I reflect back on the trip, Professor Dunn’s words ring true. It might sound cliché, but the memories our group made in London will last a lifetime. We had a blast riding the London Eye, strolling the streets of Bath, enjoying the renowned theatre, touring the Harry Potter Studio, snapping pictures at Stonehenge, sipping Afternoon tea, and so many more touristy things.leahnabby

Bath, Sommerset – Jane Austen’s hometown
Afternoon tea at Kensington Palace


These are just a few of the amazing touristy parts to our trip! I loved seeing London and the countryside with my class. I loved taking pictures, trying new foods, and shopping for souvenirs. Yet, I equally enjoyed the service learning aspect of the trip. Our class worked with the British Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity. We also spent time at the International Salvation Army Headquarters. There is something oh-so special about combining service and travel. You get to experience the culture and build relationships in a way that normal tourists miss out on.

Habitat day at Charlie Chaplin Playground

Our time with Habitat for Humanity was spent at the Charlie Chaplin Playground. This playground is specifically built for children with disabilities and their siblings. Our group spent time cleaning up the playground and grounds. I enjoyed talking with the Habitat guys and sharing our cultures! One tried to explain the game of cricket to me and I was totally clueless….

My group’s window display at the Chelsea Red Cross Shop

Volunteering at the British Red Cross Shop in Chelsea was an interesting experience. I am a Goodwill frequenter, but this was unlike any thrift store I’ve ever been in! This store only sells designer brands (Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chloé) as it is located in an extremely wealthy part of town. In fact, it is only about a 30 minute walk from William and Kate’s palace! One of our tasks was to create a window display with a red theme. I enjoyed hearing the staff speak passionately about the Red Cross. One of them was an elderly lady who has volunteered at the store for over 30 years!


The third organization we visited was the International Salvation Army headquarters. We learned much about the Salvation Army and how they operate differently all around the world. I had no idea that the organization looks different in every country and works to meet that area’s specific needs. Our group was able to tour the communication floor and meet several of their staff. Not many people get such an inside look at one of the world’s most renowned nonprofits!

I am so thankful I have had the chance to be part of the Communication in Organization Service Learning Class. Now that we are back in the states, our class continues to work with these three organizations and more. It is interesting to compare the English and American ways of running the same nonprofits.

Professor Tracie Nichols did an amazing job of planning and leading the trip! A huge thanks to her and Professor Mike Dunn for making it all possible. I will always remember this trip, the lessons we learned and the memories we made. If you’re thinking about volunteering or studying abroad, I highly recommend it! And hey, if you’re interested in doing both like I did, sign up for the Service Learning Communication in Organizations course next spring. I can promise you will not regret it!


Here are a few more pictures from our week in England:

Tower Bridge
Snapping Big Ben while on the London Eye
Ancient Roman Baths
Walking up to Windsor Castle

*The landscape photographs were taken on my Sonya6000. The group photographs were taken on an iPhone.


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