Bowdoin's Alternative Spring Break Program Celebrates 10 Years of Serving the Common Good

Story posted March 14, 2011

The Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program, coordinated through the Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good, is observing its tenth year of providing unique opportunities for students to participate in intensive public service experiences while increasing their understanding of significant social and environmental problems.

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"The Alternative Spring Break program thrives on student initiative and leadership, providing educational and sometimes life-changing experiences for students, says McKeen Center Interim Director Sarah Seames.

"Students returning from trips have been inspired to lead future trips, engage in service locally, take courses connected to their service, and sometimes change their career directions."

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Engaged in direct service relating to issues such as poverty, affordable housing, health and education, students live and work in communities with which they otherwise may have little contact.

The ASB program began in 2002 with 20 students and a trip to Peru. Since then, yearly participation levels have reached nearly 100 students as they have served the Common Good across the country, as well as in Ecuador, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Thailand and elsewhere.

This year,83 students are participating in seven ASB trips taking them to the Appalachians, the inner city, deep South, west to an Indian reservation and to Central America.

Seames says ASB participants and leaders have gone on to serve in AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, City Year and Princeton in Africa, and become teachers, medical students, micro-financiers, international volunteers and non-profit professionals.

"Many of these students credit their Alternative Spring Break experience with helping them discover how their Bowdoin education can be used for the Common Good."

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