Story posted June 24, 2009
This past March, 90 Bowdoin students spent their spring breaks volunteering in communities across the United States as well as internationally. Addressing challenges related to poverty, affordable housing, health, and education, students not only leant a hand, but also invested their time in learning from community members and partner organizations.
The connections fostered in communities of New Jersey, Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, and Peru had a profound impact on participants of these trips.
Alex Haskins wrote of his experience in New Mexico, “I remember one of the kids coming up to me and asking a very simple question: ‘Why did you come to Gallup?’ I told her that I wanted to come to teach for my spring break instead of just going home. She asked me why. I said because I wanted to give back to a community in some way. She continued to ask why until I was forced to think for myself, ‘Why Gallup?’ Most of the kids wanted to get out of Gallup as soon as possible and there I was teaching nutrition for a week. I knelt down beside her and said, ‘Because I wanted to meet you.’ She blushed and went back to her work, but I stood up in deep thought. What was my original purpose in going to Gallup? The trip was not about being a resume-filler or getting a chance to see New Mexico. The purpose of the trip was to make REAL connections with students that would last longer than seven days. And I realized in that moment that I meant every word I had said to her.”
To read more reflections on their experiences, as well as see pictures from their trips click on the links provided below.
Experiencia en Ecuador
Participants empowered children of impoverished rural communities by improving the quality of schools in Ibarra, Ecuador. Click here to read participant reflections and see pictures from the trip.
Finding Phoenix, Louisiana
Students joined the rural community of Phoenix, Louisiana as they continue to rebuild after the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Click here to read participant reflections and see pictures from the trip.
By working on a community development project, students cultivated change in the shanty towns of Lima, Peru with Solidarity in Action. Click here to read participant reflections and see pictures from the trip.
Making Mississippi Home
Participants learned about and addressed the issue of affordable housing by working with Habitat for Humanity in Pontotoc, Mississippi. Click here to read participant reflections and see pictures from the trip.
New Health Awareness in New Mexico
Students examined public health issues by working with middle schoolers and talking with health advocates from a Native American reservation in Gallup, New Mexico. Click here to read participant reflections and see pictures from the trip.
Spring to Safe Passage
Volunteers worked alongside Guatemalan teachers at Safe Passage, an organization that creates opportunities for Guatemala City's poorest children through the power of education. Click here to read participant reflections and see pictures from the trip.
Students helped combat poverty and violence through education with Urban Promise, an organization that works with youth in Camden, New Jersey. Click here to read participant reflections and see pictures from the trip.
For more information about the Alternative Spring Break program visit our the ASB section of our webpage or follow this link.