Auburn Family

Alternative Student Breaks: Serving in Many Ways

During spring break most college students plan a trip to the beach or even a cruise with their friends. Spring break is a perfect time to relax, soak up the sun and take a break before knocking out the rest of semester. Some students see a larger opportunity, however, and opt to give up the traditional spring break to serve various domestic and international communities.  These students are part of an organization called Alternative Student Breaks (ASB). 

“No other opportunity allows me to perform community service and get to know new people over an extended period of time. I wouldn't want to spend my spring break any other way,” Graham Skelton, vice president of finance said.

ASB has been an organization on Auburn’s campus since 2008. Its mission is to engage Auburn University students in affordable, substance-free service-learning projects to encourage understanding of pressing social issues in a significant way. ASB is an on-campus student organization that is part of the Center for Community Service. Through the years, ASB has grown to now provide fall, winter and spring break trips, as well as one during Martin Luther King weekend.

Although ASB has had much growth over years, leaders recognize that there is always room to expand.  “I would definitely like to see ASB as being one of the well-known organization on campus where we are sending out 20+ trips a year.  Maybe close to 1,000-plus applicants and 500-plus participants – something that everyone that is involved truly loves and is passionate about and it is one of those things people recommend to do before you graduate Auburn,” Darrell Deas, president of ASB said. 

This spring break, ASB will be taking students on trips to Everglades and Kissimmee, Florida, Marion County, Alabama, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. Each trip is unique in that each site-leader chose an issue to address and a location to serve. Most trips’ issues are chosen based on a site leader’s passion or insight to a community need. Deas was a site leader for a winter break trip in 2013, and says he enjoyed being able to maximize the trip’s impact for others.

“You also have more interactions with the participants and meet more people. You also help in exposing your participants to new ideas and experiences,” Deas said.

ASB incorporates eight learning components they want to provide on their trips. These components are strong direct service, orientation, education, training, reflection, reorientation, diversity and staying free from alcohol and other drug use.   

“One of the biggest things I hope that my participants and I get out of the trip is a strong sense of relationship. I’m also really excited to contribute to the National Park Service. I don’t think I’ve ever considered how much work it takes to keep them as pristine and pretty as they are, and I think it’ll give me an even greater sense of appreciation for our national parks,” Josef Jackson said, a site leader who is leading a trip to the Everglades.

ASB has impacted many lives over the years and, with continued growth, will impact many more. ASB is a great way to give back to the community while building relationships with team members who have a similar desire to help people in need. 

Deas says that through all the planning, his favorite part of ASB is the week of boding. “We are all working with the organization and seeing progress.  Seeing everyone bonding and forming relationships is really cool. “

The spring break teams will depart on Saturday, March 21. Stay up date with the trips and see what amazing work is being done you can follow ASB through the Center of Community Service on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Photo from Auburn University Alternative Student Breaks

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