ASB Looks Beyond One Week
Published: Friday, October 4, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 4, 2013 19:10
Participants on this year’s Alternative Spring Break will see a more cohesive, multidimensional program incorporating reflection into all aspects of the trip than in previous years.
Since its inception in 1974, Alternative Spring Break has sent students to locations from Detroit and the Alabama Gulf Coast to engage in a weeklong service venture.
With applications for ASB trips hitting an all-time high of 340 last year, board members have chosen to make this a year of growth for the organization.
“One of our focuses as a board this year is for it to be a formative year for ASB,” Head of ASB Board Stefan Rajiyah (SFS ’14) said. “We really want leaders to be focused on more this year and hopefully for years to come.”
ASB leaders are looking to increase the amount of participant involvement both before and after trips to bring home the message of ASB. In previous years, the program offered limited pre-trip activities and little follow up.
“My experience with pre-trips has been, ‘Let’s get together and get to know each other and go out to dinner.’” ASB trip leader Karyn Miller (NHS ’15) said.
To that end, Miller, who will be co-leading a Native American immersion trip to North Carolina, plans to take her group to the National Museum of the American Indian ahead of spring break.
The new effort will also increase post-trip activities with ASB-wide events that may include a week focused on social justice and reflection.
At a leader retreat in September, board members emphasized the importance of examining the effects of their actions, especially with respect to planning these trips.
“The intentionality aspect is not just for our trips but also in the structure of ASB itself,” Appalachia trip leader Samantha Lin (SFS ’14) said. “The leaders went on a daylong retreat, and everything we did was intentional.”
One goal of this increased attention to intentionality in the planning stages of the ASB trips is to bridge the gap between community service and cultural immersion.
“In the past, trips have been categorized as either service or immersion trips, and we don’t see this dichotomy,” ASB Marketing Chair Kayla Corcoran (COL ’15) said. “All trips are cultural and justice immersion trips.”
Trips will also explore the sociopolitical context of their communities.
“We’re not just doing activities to take up time,” Corcoran said. “We’re going to think about the historic relevance, the cultural relevance and the political relevance, and we’re going to make sure that our participants have the tools to think about those kinds of issues.”
Former trip participant Katie Bui (COL ’16) appreciated ASB’s broader focus.
“I think that while you can learn from just doing community work, putting an emphasis on the trajectory of your work is much more important,” Bui said.
By selecting meaningful activities for participants to engage in both before and during the trips, the ASB board hopes to encourage participants to increase involvement with CSJ and other service programs during the year.
“We’re looking at ASB not just as a one-week commitment but as a commitment to social justice that goes beyond that week,” Corcoran said.