Oct 062004
Authors: Megan Schulz

Spring Break may be months away, but CSU’s Office of Student

Leadership and Civic Engagement is already planning an Alternative

Spring Break for students.

The program started at CSU in 1989 as an unconventional way for

students to spend Spring Break volunteering in various cities.

“It’s a week-long volunteer trip,” said Jess Burge, alternative

break coordinator and senior human development and family studies

major. “(Alternative Spring Break) is about immersion into

different cultures and learning about the issues that face our

communities around us.”

About 100 CSU students participate in the program each year,

according to the SLCE Web site. There is also the possibility of a

similar trip that would take place in May.

Some concern for students in the past involved the cost of the

trip. This year, SLCE is planning on increasing fundraising to make

the trip less expensive for students.

“This year we are doing a lot of fundraising,” Burge said. “(The

trips are) affordable for everyone through fundraising.”

The Web site states that all trips require a $350 program fee,

and participants are expected to fund their own plane tickets.

In March, participant in Alternative Spring Break will visit

eight cities around the country and tackle social issues such as

homelessness, HIV/AIDS, civil rights and environmental issues.

“Alternative breaks are a great way for students to learn about

new cultures and social issues facing our community while learning

about themselves,” said Becky Palmisano, SLCE assistant


Some students who participated in the past said the trip had a

lasting, positive impact on their personal lives. Senior biology

major Andy Reitinger has attended a total of three trips, all of

which were focused on the issue of HIV/AIDS.

“(The trips) are a part of my life. I reflected on that I will

never forget,” Reitinger said. “Each trip had a different feeling

for me, and led me to pursue a career in HIV research.”

Murwa Farah, a sophomore open-option major, agreed that

Alternative Spring Break had a permanent influence on her life.

“Before I went on this trip, I think I was na�ve in my

view of the U.S.,” Farah said. “Going on that trip opened my eyes

to so many different cultures and issues that I never had to deal

with in my personal life.”

Farah visited San Juan, Texas, last spring and worked with

migrant farm workers.

“I have met a lot of people in my short 22 years of life, but I

will always remember the ones I helped, served and shared my life

with on alternative break,” wrote Reitinger on the SLCE Web site.

“They have encouraged me to do something good with my life and to

continue to help and use life to support others.”

The Office of Student Leadership and

Civic Engagement encourages any interested students to attend the

informational meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday in the Lory Student

Center. The application deadline is Oct. 18 at 5 p.m. Call 491-3579

or visit SLCE in the Lory Student Center basement for more


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