Mar 272008
 
Authors: Cece Wildeman

While many students traveled or relaxed this spring break, a handful of students chose to participate in Alternative Spring Break programs, spending their time helping communities in need.

CSU organizes 16 community service-based trips each year in which students travel and volunteer. Ten of these trips take place over spring break, with groups traveling to Panama, Mexico, New York City, Washington D.C., Texas, Catalina Island, Los Angeles New Orleans and Tennessee.

“These trips are important because we get to meet authentic community needs,” said Jennifer Johnson, assistant director of student leadership, involvement and community engagement. “The students benefit a lot through the learning and they come away with good friends.”

Johnson said the programs are generally very successful and few students have problems with their operations. Financially, the students are only responsible for airline tickets, a registration fee and spending money.

Kate Lundberg, a senior social work major, traveled to San Juan, TX over break on her fourth ASB trip, and said she enjoyed her work with the program.

She said the entire application process is about two the three weeks for summer and winter trips, but that the process for spring trips starts earlier, so the groups have time for team building.

“CSU has a great program and it’s a great way for students to be involved,” she said. “It is a good way for students to learn about different issues, and not just in the classroom, but really be able to apply them.”

On her trip, Lundberg built houses for migrant farm workers, an experience that she said helped her learn about community issues in another area of the country.

Eren Gary, a second year senior French major, also spent her spring break building and painting houses. Gary traveled to New Orleans, LA to help out with continuing relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina. She said that she enjoyed meeting the families that they were building for as they were appreciative of her group’s efforts.

Although the group devoted much of their time to community service, Gary said there was also time for social activities and that the trip was very relaxed.

ASB programs do not only focus on projects dealing with construction and relief, they also focus on projects that work with museums, preschools, senior centers, the national forest service and various other organizations.

Joshua Eldridge, a second year masters student studying restoration and ecology, participated in such a program in Tennessee.

While in Tennessee, Eldridge’s group worked with the eastern band of Cherokee Indians, completing trail work and creating attractions at their museums in order to bring in and educate tourists. Eldridge’s group also worked at a preschool, a senior center and with the national forest service.

All three ASB participants said that the organizations and families they worked for were extremely grateful and that they would like to participate in more ASB programs because they heed important benefits.

“It is important for society that we look out not only for ourselves but for others as well,” Eldridge said.

Senior Reporter Cece Wildeman can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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