News

Students take break to help around the country

For most students, spring break is a chance to forget about their responsibilities and work on their tans for a week. However, some students used the time to learn while helping with serious issues affecting communities throughout the country through the UM’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program.

“The issues span the spectrum, but the overall purpose of ASB is to expose college students actively to various social programs around the country and help them to understand the root problems,” site leader education co-chair Alex Ortiz said. “We want to get them to actually be conscientious and ultimately active citizens who ask why these things happen and who make the community a priority.”

This year, students had several options of what issues they wanted to focus on, including hunger and homelessness, animal rights, the environment and HIV/AIDS. There were 15 student and faculty site leaders, between 40 and 50 student participants and one of the lowest drop rates the program has ever had, according to Ortiz.

“I decided to do ASB because I enjoy community service, like the idea of traveling and had heard nothing but good things about the organization,” Kara Brown, Hunger and Homelessness site participant, said. “I thought it would be nice to have a complete break from classes but still spend the short time I had off doing something productive.”

The seven women in the Hunger and Homelessness group were sent to Boulder, Colorado to work with the organization StandUp for Kids. After two days of intense training they became street counselors for the organization. During their time in Boulder, the participants spent their days reorganizing the center’s clothing closets; in the evenings they went on outreach, providing bag lunches and listening to youth on the streets.

“Initially it was a little shocking because it was difficult to imagine that a wealthy city like Boulder had a significant homeless population,” said Brown, a sophomore and first time ASB participant. “However, they actually have 10,000 residents who can be classified as homeless.”

Another group went to New York City to work with Momentum AIDS Project, an organization that gives support to HIV/AIDS patients through nutrition education, housing, and job searches. The twelve UM students prepared and served meals and interacted with the patients to show them that people were there to listen.

“Definitely when I went I had a stereotype that AIDS patients were a certain way,” Swati Chalavarya, sophomore and first time ASB participant, said. “They were so surprised that we would actually sit down with them or shake their hands.”

Whether it was helping kids with homework or fighting for human rights, the ASB participants came back feeling that they had made a difference.

“They told us that we were putting a face to the disease [AIDS], that they are human too and not invisible,” Chalavarya said. “We came back wanting to express what we learned to others.”

“ASB boasts that it can provide a life-changing experience, and they are absolutely correct,” Brown said. “This year, the Hunger and Homelessness site is especially unique in that we are taking what we have learned with Boulder’s chapter of StandUp and using it to restart the Miami chapter. We are all excited that, in a way, our spring break doesn’t have to end.”

>> For more information about ASB, contact the Butler Volunteer Services Center at 305-284-GIVE.

Catherine Howden can be contacted at c.howden@umiami.edu.

March 25, 2005

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

At their best, they are UM’s most dynamic players on each side of the ball. But the Ahmmon Richards ...

A day after practicing in the Carol Soffer Football Indoor Practice Facility for the first time in s ...

It appears that at least one LSU receiver won’t be available at the University of Miami football ope ...

After the Miami Hurricanes football team spent part of its practice on Monday in a torrential downpo ...

Nothing like a comic book cover on steroids to get University of Miami and LSU football fans juiced ...

Intergroup Dialogue, soon to be offered as a course, fosters a sense of belonging, an appreciation f ...

Aretha Franklin and her music defined “what is soul” to generations of music lovers. ...

The University of Miami kicked into high gear to welcome thousands of new students and ensure move-i ...

UM President Julio Frenk welcomes first-year and transfer students to UM in signature ’Cane Kickoff ...

Miami Law conducts its inaugural Legal Impact Hack for first-year students. ...

The University of Miami volleyball team won its exhibition match over FIU, 3-0, Saturday at the Knig ...

Coming off a road win in its season opener, the University of Miami soccer team will welcome crossto ...

In head coach Sarah Barnes' debut at the helm, the University of Miami soccer team won its seas ...

The Hurricanes practiced in the Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility for the first time ever on Fri ...

Malik Rosier, Travis Homer and Ahmmon Richards are key returning playmakers, but they are just the b ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.