Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trips provide a unique opportunity for students to participate in an intensive public service experience while increasing their understanding of significant social and environmental problems. Engaged in direct service relating to these problems, students live and work in communities with which they otherwise may have little contact. Being completely immersed in this environment over an extended period of time allows students to internalize their experience, which can serve as a springboard for a lifelong commitment to social change.
During the spring semester, participants attend weekly pre-service meetings to prepare them for their service experience. These meetings include background and cultural information about the site, educational visits from Bowdoin professors, reading assignments, film viewing, fundraising, and team-building activities. During the trip, students participate in meaningful service activities, daily reflective sessions, and evening group activities. After returning to campus, students work together to educate the larger Bowdoin community about their issue area and experience.West Virginia has helped to remind me of how incredibly connected I am to humanity at large, of how every decision I make affects so much more than myself.
The application process for 2013 ASB trips is now closed. Students interested in attending spring 2014's trips should look for information in September of 2013.
Alternative Spring Break trips are organized and led by students who want to provide an intensive learning through service experience. ASB leaders are responsible for all aspects of the alternative spring break trip, including recruiting participants, trip logistics, coordinating with the host site, and leading the actual trip.
ASB proposals and leader applications are reviewed each spring for the following year by a committee of students, faculty, and McKeen Center staff. Those leaders whose trips are selected receive support and training from the McKeen Center to plan and implement their ASB trips.
During the fall semester, ASB leaders participate in the Leaders' Seminar, a 10-week course facilitated by the staff of the McKeen Center. This seminar prepares leaders in how to organize and lead their trips and to help student participants examine the political, social, cultural, and economic aspects of their service and the communities in which they will be living. Through this seminar, leaders develop their own seminar which they lead for their trip participants in the spring.
A Helping Hand in Philadelphia
Participants explored issues of hunger and homelessness by working with a food shelter, a housing and neighborhood redevelopment program, and other organizations designed to alleviate poverty. Leaders: Courtney Chuang and Diana Lee.
Harvesting Communities in Immokalee, Florida
Participants worked with and learned from the migrant workers of Immokalee, Florida by tutoring youth, working in a soup kitchen, and advocating for their fair and humane treatment. Leaders: Leovanny Fernandez and Macy Galvan
Lessons from the Passamaquoddy
Pleasant Point, Maine
Participants learned about Native American communities in Maine by volunteering in schools and learning from community members of the Pleasant Point Passamaquoddy Tribe. Leaders: Erin St. Peter and Micah Ludwig
Making Mississippi Home
Participants examined issues of affordable housing by working on a Habitat for Humanity build site in Pontotoc, Mississippi. Leaders: Laura Keller and Marcus Karim
New Perspectives, New Voices, New York
New York, New York
Participants gained perspectives on urban education by working with students from Harlem Children’s Zone and a Bronx public school. Leaders: Emma James and Jess Caron
Revitalize Atlanta: Finding a New Home in America
Participants learned about refugee resettlement by working closely with organizations that provide education, housing, and job training to Atlanta refugee communities. Leaders: Jessie Turner and Melody Hahm
Spring to Safe Passage in Guatemala City
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Participants engaged in cross-cultural exchange and participated in discussion, worked in English classrooms, and facilitated creative projects at Safe Passage, an organization that provides education and support for the children and adults of the Guatemala City garbage dump community. Leaders: Sandra Martinez and Tasha Sandoval
The Alternative Spring Break program has a successful and exciting history. The first trip sponsored through the McKeen Center (formerly the Community Service Resource Center) traveled to Peru in 2002. Since then, the program has grown exponentially. In 2012 we saw almost 100 students travel to 8 destinations, both domestic and international. Through all this time, these trips have been designed and led exclusively by students. See below links for descriptions of all the past trips and students' reflections of their experiences.
For more information about the ASB program contact Luke Mondello, Assistant Director at the McKeen Center.