For many college students, the term “spring break” automatically conjures up images of beaches, bikinis, alcohol and, possibly, handcuffs. To spend this week of liberty from essays and exams indulging in anything less would be a grave injustice to the spirit of college living.
That belief is the foundation of the Alternative Students Breaks program. According to their website, these students “saw the necessity and exciting opportunities that existed to perform service and make a difference in someone else's life while they had a break from class.”
“ASB's purpose is not only to provide [these] experiences for students but to educate them about the issues we work with on [these] trips. We want the students that come back to Auburn to be a voice for those communities and to become more active citizens and dedicate their lives to community service and bettering those around them,” said Steven Sheffield, president of Alternative Student Breaks.
This is ASB’s first full year as an organization.
For Spring Break 2013, ASB will be targeting social advocacy in Apopka, Florida. Students will gain a working knowledge of life as an immigrant by residing with workers and engaging in the problems they encounter on a daily basis.
ASB will also target rural poverty in Cranks Creek, Kentucky by serving those facing extreme poverty. In Kissimmee, Florida, students will work with the Give Kids the World organization, tailoring activities to children with terminal illnesses. Finally, in both the Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, students will undertake a wide range of community development activities, ranging from child engagement to construction.
“We are part of a large organization called Breakaway, and there are schools all throughout the SEC and all throughout the country who we adopt practices from and we contact to see how they plan trips,” said Sheffield. “Here at Auburn, we work to connect with our partners in the center for community service, like Impact and Dance Marathon. Those students are very connected to community service already, so we just want to give them another opportunity to serve.”
Students seeking to participate are required to have a minimum GPA of 2.25 and complete essays focusing on why they’ve chosen to participate, how they work with other cultures and how they rank the various trips. State laws require those participating in the international trips to be age 19 or older.
Participation is also available by becoming a site leader, executive officer, trip advisor, or donor.
The application deadline is October 31, 2012.