Mar 162003
Authors: Willow Welter

Over break, some students helped build houses, worked with youth and participated in many other community programs during their non-traditional spring break.

From Chicago to Seattle, New Mexico to California, CSU students departed Fort Collins on March 7 destined for eight different areas of the United States. They returned Saturday after a week of work and experience with different communities.

The Office for Service Learning assigned coordinators and leaders to each group participating in the non-traditional spring break. Nick Horras, a senior natural resources major, coordinated the program this year.

“This is the only kind of spring break trip you can put on a resume,” Horras said, describing the cultural interaction and environmental concentration students who go on these trips experience. “It’s very different than the beer-and-beaches spring break.”

Jessica Goldberger, a sophomore environmental health major, led a trip of non-traditional spring breakers to Yakama Nation, a reservation in Poppenish, Wash.

Goldberger and the other CSU students who worked on the reservation last week assisted with youth in the community, painted an elderly lady’s house and served as farm workers.

“The week went by really fast. When the last day came, we wanted to stay longer,” Goldberger said. “I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a week.”

While Goldberger experienced Washington, Justin Killebrew, a senior microbiology major, led a group to a ranch in Galisteo Basin, N.M.

Killebrew and the two other CSU students on this particular trip worked with a program called Cornerstone to restore historical adobe structures. They also laid a pipeline on the ranch, planted trees and built a fence.

“We worked really hard and were always tired at the end of the day,” Killebrew said. “We usually went to bed around 9 p.m.”

Further south in Espanola, N.M., Jackie Polis, a junior fine arts major, led a group of CSU non-traditional spring breakers to work in a high school.

Polis said the area they worked in struggled with drugs, gambling and education problems. She said heroin among students’ families poses a threat, as do teachers who may not feel motivated to teach.

Polis’s group worked with a program called Hands Across Cultures to teach media literacy to the Espanola high school students. They also hosted after school programs and hung out with the kids.

“I think these trips impact the college students more,” Polis said. “The best part about it is it makes people step out of their comfort zone and learn something about another part of the world.”

Five more groups departed CSU and performed community service in Chicago, Portland, Ore., Catalina Island, Calif., and Wind River Reservation in Wyoming.

The non-traditional spring breakers plan to present a slide show of their experiences at the Fort Collins Senior Center on March 25. Anyone interested should contact the Office for Service Learning.

“Some people wouldn’t want to give up their spring break,” Polis said, reflecting on the non-traditional trip she took last week. “But I think they would be really surprised how much of a difference they can make.”

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