By Kaitlin Zurdosky, For the Daily
Published March 10, 2013
Rather than leave the Midwestern cold to lay out in warmer climates, many students ventured outside the “traditional” spring break trip by volunteering with community service projects.
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Several programs within in the University sponsored service trips across the globe. University groups that planned service trips including the University chapter of Young Life, Muslim-Jewish Interfaith Alternative Spring Break, Sa Nima Collaborative, Humanity First, Alpha Epsilon Delta, Multidisciplinary Organization of Cerebral Studies, National Society for Black Engineers, Migrant and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Medical Educational Service Opportunities and BLI/PILOT in addition to the mainstay Alternative Spring Break student group.
University departments and clubs arranged trips to Chicago, St. Louis, New Orleans, New York, Texas, and other domestic and international locations. Some students worked in the public-sector at government agencies and cultural institutions as well as non-profit organizations. Other groups helped rebuild homes and buildings destroyed by natural disasters and provide support to people in the area.
“The students are applying what they are learning in the class-room in a hands-on project, often in environments that are lacking in staff, resources, and/or technology,” said Kelly Kowatch, who coordinates trips for the School of Information.
Students on Alternative Spring Break trips agreed that one of the most gratifying parts of the trip was building relationships with other students and people within the communities.
On a trip to Epworth Children and Family Services in St. Louis, LSA junior Alex Stinson helped youths overcome severe emotional and behavioral challenges. The St. Louis students routinely combat problems such as sexual abuse, domestic violence and drug use in their homes.
Stinson said he specifically recalled one St. Louis student who had an impact on him.
“She had decided that she wanted to work towards going to college,” Stinson said. “This was something she had honestly never even dreamed possible or considered, and (after guidance) promised that she would work hard to achieve. She thanked us all for all of our service and wished that we all could come back soon. She left us all with the most lasting impression and made us feel that we had truly made a difference.”
Some Alternative Spring Break trips are tailored to fit a specific niche. The
Multidisciplinary Organization of Cerebral Studies club organized a trip to the a home for people with developmental disabilities in Chicago.
“Our trip was comprised of exclusively pre-health students who were interested in careers in neuroscience and psychology — this allowed us to have meaningful discussions on the fields and how we hope to make an impact with our work when we graduate,” said LSA junior Mike Weykamp.
Engineering junior Jackie Reimann said her participation in an Alternative Spring Break trip has inspired her to continue with service.
“The most gratifying part of this trip was the overwhelming amount of thanks and knowledge that we received from everyone there. Every person that we met had a lesson that they shared with us.”