West Virginia

Appalachia in Transition



Travel to southern West Virginia for a week-long immersion experience learning from and working alongside West Virginians as they transition from the boom of coal mining into an uncharted future

– This program is available for youth over 14 years old, adults of all ages, and multi-generational groups –

Why travel to West Virginia?
West Virginia has significant environmental, social, and economic injustices that revolve around the United States’ long history of extractive industries, especially coal mining, for economic gain. Participants will travel deep into Fayette County to have a first-hand experience working and learning alongside community members with diverse perspectives on West Virginia’s past, present, and future. As we all grapple with the current political moment, it is more important than ever to cross boundaries within our own country as these injustices are spread nation-wide.
What can we expect to learn?
The West Virginia program is described as immersion learning instead of service because we want to emphasize the equal relationships and expertise among all community members and partners. When we are immersed in relationships and experiences that allow us to hear people’s stories first hand, when we directly encounter their struggles and victories, and when we share collective experiences and our common aspirations for justice, we have not simply learned something — we can also become transformed in the process.
How do we organize a West Virginia journey with UUCSJ?

Would like to organize a journey to West Virginia, please contact gcollignon@uucsj.org with your preferred travel dates. All journeys are one week long, from Saturday evening through the following Saturday morning. UUCSJ requires a minimum of four months of planning time for this journey.

How much does this journey cost?

For a minimum of 10 participants, the cost is approximately $900 per person, not including airfare. The per person cost includes all meals, lodging, and honoraria for our partners. The price will fluctuate depending on the total number of participants as well as the need for rental vehicles during the journey.

Financial aid is available for up to 50% (75% for youth groups) of program costs based on need and is awarded on a first come, first serve basis. All participants are strongly encouraged to fill out the financial aid request section of the journey application.

Can I see a sample itinerary?

Click here to download a sample itinerary for this program. Specific activities will vary depending on time of year and availability of people and organizations.

Learn More about West Virginia

Appalachia's Sacrifice

This recent article in the New York Times outlines the unjust situation of drinking water in Appalachia, and the struggles surrounding the fight for clean water.
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Heather Vickery is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with UU congregations, State Action Networks, past UU College of Social Justice (UUCSJ) program participants, and regional staff in order to expand engagement in UUSC and UUCSJ’s work. As the Coordinator for Congregational Activism, she manages the workshop offerings and group visits to the UUSC/UUCSJ office and assists with communications for the Activism and Justice Education Team. Heather is an active member of the Boston Immigration Justice Accompaniment Network and a dedicated dog-mom to her rescue puppy Nova.

Heather may be contacted at hvickery@uucsj.org and 617-301-4303