For some students, this year’s spring break means more than just a week lounging at home or on the beach. The participants in the Alternative Spring Break program will be hitting sites throughout the U.S. in hopes of serving others and educating themselves about important social issues.
“This program allows students to travel across the country and work with a specific topic in community service,” said Minal Ahson, Alternative Spring Break publicity chair. “It’s really a week to immerse yourself in service.”
The program will take place during spring break from March 8-16 and includes sites involving domestic violence, HIV and AIDS, animal rights, environmental issues, youth violence and children’s issues.
The actual locations have yet to be disclosed, but cities visited last year included Providence, R.I., Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, PA and Turtle Cove, LA.
Jesse Hanson, a site leader for the upcoming year, got involved two years ago for a change of pace. Hanson worked with youth violence in the 2001 program and was leader of the welfare rights site last year.
“I just wanted to do something more important during break,” Hanson said. “I wanted to get something done instead of just laying on the beach for a week.”
According to program chair Danielle Miller, Alternative Spring Break offers students another option for their week off.
“The goal is to take students on a trip that totally immerses them in a particular topic. Hopefully, it will foster growth in them and make them more active citizens,” she said. “They don’t just work for a week; they really become more educated.”
Miller has participated in the program four times, twice with domestic violence in the National Indian Reserve and twice in Detroit with the issues of youth violence and urban renewal.
“I could give a million and one reasons why this is a great program,” Miller said. “The reason that I love Alternative Break is that it has helped me be a better person and leader. It taught me a lot about my own strengths and weaknesses and helped erase a lot of the stereotypes that I already had.”
“This is definitely an experience that changes your life,” Andrea Sauerteig, a member of the executive board, said.
Applications for the spring 2003 program are available in the Volunteer Service Center in UC 240. They are due today.
Cost for participation is around $250 for the week, which includes the student’s flight to the site, accommodations and food. Volunteers must pay their own way.
For more information about Alternative Spring Break, call the Volunteer Service Center at 305-284-GIVE or visit the program’s website at www.miami.edu/UMAlternativeBreaks/UMAB.htm.