With the one of largest spring break weeks of the year, thousands of Spartans gather together and celebrate a week of carefree relaxation. While thousands of students make a fast break for a little fun in the sun and a fresh mojito at their side, a small percentage of Spartans chose to spend their spring break in another environment. Instead of laying by the pool, they can be seen putting siding on a house or helping a child with a math problem. They are the Alternative Spring Breakers.
With over 25 service trips offered each year, Alternative Spring Break provides students with the opportunity to participate and provide service to communities in and out of the United States. Twelve students are selected for each trip where they will provide at least 30 hours of community service in a social issue of their concern. Some of the trips that are offered focus on issues such as disaster relief, health, environment, kids, education and more. Another bonus of ASB: the amazing places you'll get to visit. Just a few places breakers will be visiting this year are, New Orleans, Washington, Miami, Chicago and international trips to Puerto Rico, Jamaica and Costa Rica.
I chose to participate in Alternative Spring Break 2011 and while it was one of the most spontaneous decisions I have ever made, it was also one of the best. My trip took me to Baltimore, MD where I spent a week with eleven strangers that soon became close friends and volunteered at the Maree G. Farring elementary school. I spent the majority of my time in a third grade classroom where I created close relationships with 7 and 8 year olds. I had never visited Baltimore before and it was one of the best experiences I've had since being in college. I felt refreshed when I returned home, proud of what I had accomplished and meeting all of the amazing people along the way was a major benefit.
Rachel Jackson, journalism junior, also made the trip to Baltimore and enjoyed the ASB experience so much that she's participating again. This year Jackson will be heading to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota where she will be helping with a variety of projects.
"My favorite part of ASB is knowing that what I help with actually can make a difference in someone's life, even though I'm there for only a short period of time," said Jackson. "I underestimated the amount of good my group did in that Baltimore school for even a week, but everyone was sad when it was time to leave — both the students and ourselves."
Alternative Spring Break is a great experience for everyone and is guaranteed to give you a break like no other. While you may already have your flight booked for Panama City next week, there's
"I really like doing something completely different than what I was used to do because not a lot of people do something like this, and it was a great opportunity. It's so different from anything I had ever done, and from things most of my friends had done,” said Jackson.