March 11, 2010
More than 150 Colorado State University students will devote Spring Break '10 to community service and social and cultural education by participating in the university's Alternative Break program.
This year students will be traveling to one of 13 destinations to assist in a wide variety of service projects.
“I participate in Alternative Breaks because I love to volunteer. I think that it is really important to go out and engage in the community,” said Tisa Kunkee, New Orleans disaster relief group leader. “Alternative Breaks are also a great way to meet a lot of new people who have similar interests to yours.”
The Alternative Break program provides a complete immersion experience into different cultural, environmental and socioeconomic communities across the globe. Host communities provide educational experiences focused on the current social and cultural issues facing the area in exchange for volunteer services provided by students.
“I look forward to getting the chance to learn a great deal about the culture of the Smoky Mountains and Cherokee people through service work,” said Sam Bowersox-Daly, Alternative Break student coordinator who will travel to Maryville, Tenn. “Personally, I believe that when a person is given the opportunity to really learn something about themselves through places and people who offer diverse backgrounds and stories, they should take it.”
The program is designed to generate active citizens who make the community a priority when making life choices. While the participating communities benefit from tangible work completed, the students gain a broader understanding of the world around them and the every-day issues others can face.
Students visiting Washington, D.C. will work directly with the homeless population of the city.
“We will be involved in the Student Homeless Challenge a program through the National Coalition for the Homeless,” said Ian Krammer, Washington, D.C. group leader. “We will sleep on the streets, use the services in the area for the homeless and try to find the resources for food, shelter and money while we are there. We also will be working in the nation’s biggest homeless shelter that is only a few blocks away from the Capitol.”
Students often return with a deeper sense of the complexity of social issues and a stronger commitment to resolving root causes of problems. Many choose host sites that are relevant in some way to their academic course work.
“I am an environmental sociology major so going to New Orleans connects to what I learn in class in major ways,” said Kunkee. “I have even taken a class about disasters and we talked a lot about Hurricane Katrina and looked at what sociopolitical interaction was involved in this ‘natural’ disaster. I am really excited to see first-hand what we talked about in that class as well as experience a place that is like no other in the United States.”
Many participants have hailed the experience as fundamentally life-changing and the best week they have ever had.
“This is hands down the best program that CSU has to offer its students,” said Jeffrey Garkow, Tennessee group leader and five-time Alternative Break participant. “It's a chance to do something relevant over spring break with an amazing and dedicated group of people. You learn not only about an area of the country or world that you might not have known about before, but also a lot about yourself.”
Contact: Jennifer Dimas
E-mail: (970) 491-1543