UM students prepare for Alternative Spring Break 2002

What are your plans for spring break? Chances are, you’ll be spending your time doing nothing at home or hitting the beach and the night scene if you opt to remain in Miami.

Not for some University of Miami students.

These students are taking the initiative to jazz up their spring break by participating in Alternative Spring Break [ASB], a volunteer student organization that assists communities nationwide.

“The students are basically immersed into the local communities where they are working with specific issues,” said Yasmin Bootwala, chair of Alternative Spring Break.

“The issues range from camps for children with cranio-facial disorders; welfare rights issues in the third poorest district in the nation; to working with fine arts in the schools. This year we have about 70 participants,” Bootwala said.

Alternative Spring Break began at the University of Miami about twelve years ago when Hurricane Andrew hit.

Volunteers joined together to help the people who were affected by rebuilding a destroyed community.

Since then, ASB has become a large, well-developed program that plans to send students to eleven sites nationwide, including Orlando where they will tackle a long-held concern about urban poverty by helping the elderly; Arizona, to help victims of domestic violence; and Louisiana, to lend a hand in wetland restoration.

Alternative Spring Break draws students from all majors, as well as professors who are interested in the issues and who hope to have more contact with the students.

Students began preparing for Alternative Spring Break 2002 by filling out an application in the fall, followed by an interview. The first meeting was held last December.

Alternative Spring Break holds several fundraisers to raise money for the trips. “We did a wonderfully successful ASB raffle this year,” Bootwala said.

“We will have our semesterly buffet fundraiser on April 2nd on the UC patio under the canopy at lunch time. We appreciate all support that we can get,” she added.

Students eager to participate in the next ASB might not have to wait until spring break 2003 to get involved.

“We hope to offer a fall break site next year for the long weekend to give more people an alternative break experience even if they cannot go over spring break. Winter trips are also on the horizon of possibilities,” Bootwala said.

Making use of the time students have off from classes is important, not only for having a memorable experience but for promoting personal growth-this is what Alternative Spring Break has to offer to their participants.