For most participants in Alternative Spring Break programs, the experience lasts a week.

But for ASB leaders, the trips are the culmination of a process that begins almost a year before the first day of break, according to Ray Shiu, director of student leadership and special programs at the Center for Social Justice, which coordinates the ASB trips.

“This year’s leaders have been working diligently since April 2011 to prepare and plan for ASB 2012,”Shiu wrote in an email.

Alongside Shiu, leaders must negotiate trip fees and insurance policies and sign contracts with the organizations they will be working and living with.

“There’s definitely a lot of logistical stuff,” Sammy Magnuson (COL ’12), a leader for the Habitat for Humanity trip to Mobile, Ala., said. “Those are the kinds of things that you don’t really realize.”

While leaders work to coordinate the logistics of their individual trips, ASB’s planning committee oversees the marketing, fundraising, training and reflection aspects of the trips overall.

According to Marketing Chair Sarah Mason (MSB ’12), the committee seeks to improve the program every year and ensure the trips are meaningful for students.

“For the Alternative Spring Break program as a whole, our main goal every year is to increase our outreach on campus and create as diverse an applicant pool as possible,” she said. “I made a point to reach people we hadn’t necessarily reached before.”

Mason hopes that the program will expand to ensure that future trips will be open to more students.

“Ideally, it would be great if everyone who applied could go on a trip,” she said. “It’s really hard to be selective when everyone you’re choosing from is committed to give up their spring to volunteer or perform some kind of service.”

According to Magnuson, planning isn’t just about hammering out the details and making sure the trips runs smoothly.

“I think that it’s really important that the planning board really instills in the leaders a deep sense of purpose for the trip,” she said.

Manguson also highlighted the importance of establishing clear goals for the trip.

“I think that what I really try to emphasize [to students] is … ‘why does it matter that you are specifically here?’” she said.

Despite the obstacles, trip leaders said the organization process is a rewarding one.

“I think for people that want to be leaders, it can sound intimidating — the amount of time that goes into it — but the more work you put into it, the more you get out of it,” Becca Egan (NHS ’13), Magnuson’s co-leader on the trip to Mobile, said.

Magnuson agreed.

“You have to put in meaning to get meaning out,” she said.

Manguson added that ASB trip leaders experience the same personal growth and get the same opportunity for reflection as participants.

“I came out with just as much and I learned just as much as everyone else,” Manguson said. “There were some very thought-provoking conversations. Not only did it make the work more meaningful, but it also made our Georgetown experience more meaningful.”

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