Athens, Ga. – On March 12, 358 University of Georgia students will depart Athens to spend a week participating in service learning projects at 19 sites throughout the United States. An average of 17 students will travel to each of the sites with two of 38 trained student site leaders.
Alternative Spring Break engages students in an affordable, weeklong substance-free, community service and experiential service learning project that encourages an understanding of pressing societal issues in a significant way.
Students perform short-term projects for community agencies and learn about social justice issues including: affordable housing and construction; ageism and elderly awareness; children’s issues; cultural exploration; disability awareness; education; environmental awareness; HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention; homelessness and poverty; and public health awareness.
According to Sarah Wilcox, assistant director of the UGA Center for Leadership and Service, the program gives students a chance to learn about pressing issues and to interact with community members with whom they normally would have little contact.
“When students are immersed in these kinds of diverse environments, they can experience and understand societal issues in a deeper, more meaningful and personal way,” she explained. “The full benefit of the experience is realized when the students return with a renewed commitment to foster change in their own communities.”
Amarachi Anukam, a third-year health promotion major from Athens, will serve as an ASB site leader this year after two years as a participant. “During my freshman year, I went on my first ASB trip to South Carolina and I was blown away by the experience. I had an amazing time, and I met 20 new people with a contagious passion for service,” she said. “Last year, ASB led me to our nation’s capital, where I and 21 other students made efforts to combat homelessness and poverty in the area.”
Anukam emphasizes that the strength of the ASB program is a result of the personal connections it fosters as well as the increased awareness of social issues it brings.”(It) has positive outcomes for everyone involved-the places we visit, the people we meet and the students we befriend all come away from the experience better than before,” said Anukam. “I will be involved with ASB as long as possible, because it is hands down the greatest organization I have everbeen a part of.”
UGA’s Alternative Spring Break program is one of hundreds that take place across the nation in both colleges and high schools. At UGA, the program is run almost entirely by student volunteers with guidance from one professional staff member and one doctoral intern.
For more information, see www.uga.edu/cls or call 706/583-0830.
Alternative Spring Break is a program of the Department of Campus Life’s Center for Leadership and Service within the UGA Division of Student Affairs.