Clemson students returned to campus Wednesday as the school’s fall break ended. While many students returned home or hung out with friends during their break, a small group spent the time helping schools in one of the poorest areas of South Carolina.
Students with Clemson’s Alternative Break Program spent their fall break working with high schoolers in an area called the “Corridor of Shame,” which are some of the state’s poorest and most neglected school districts.
Clemson Student Jeff Schlandt traveled to Allendale County, along with five other students and two faculty members.
Schlandt tells first hand what he saw:
Everything was torn down. The schools were in terrible shape compared to what I’m used to coming from my home compared to what I’ve seen in the Upstate. They really don’t have the things to fix them and things are falling apart.
Schlandt said the students used the experience to mentor high school students at underfunded schools in Allendale and surrounding areas.
Children grow up in this environment and they’re not really expected to go to college and they see people from the Upstate and sort of a different culture that doesn’t really care about them. They’re not getting the funding they need because the taxes aren’t really coming from that area. There’s no industry there so it’s sort of a cycle.
Schlandt said it was hard to fathom that this kind of poverty exists so close to home.
I hear all the time, from different places, about different places around the world that have problems growing up… with poverty and lack of industry, and it’s just sort of a really bad situation growing up. I hadn’t experienced that so close to where I live.”
Schlandt expressed concern for the needs of the area and feels he can perhaps do more to help.
The “Corridor of Shame” includes rural schools in districts located along the I-95 corridor in South Carolina.