Alternative Spring Break: Reflections, Call for Applications

Story posted October 06, 2008

Spring break 2008 was an adventurous learning experience for dozens of students who took off for a variety of locales, ranging from the inner city neighborhoods of the Bronx and Katrina-ravaged Louisiana, to the shantytowns of Lima, Peru, and the Guatemala City dump.

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Mike Howard '08 entertains a young girl in Lima, Peru.



See multimedia slideshows of Alternative Spring Break 2008 here.

Seventy-six students spent an intense week in the field of public service as part of the Alternative Spring Break program, coordinated through the Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good.

Alternative Spring Breaks 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.

Following the 2008 trips, students shared their experiences at Perspectives, an exhibit of photographs and written reflections.

View a slideshow of images and hear studentsí reflections from their trips.

2009 Alternative Spring Break

Applications for 2009 Alternative Spring Break trips are now available and are due October 27. Find an application here.

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.

Alternative Break Leaders develop the context for this experience by organizing all aspects of break trip and are responsible for facilitating participants' learning before, during and after the program through a seminar of their own design for participants.

Leaders develop many of the skills necessary to facilitate this learning through participation in a fall retreat and the Alternative Spring Break Leader Seminar.

These leaders bring to the program experience in leadership, community service, group development, and travel as well as a passion for a particular issue.

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Bowdoin volunteers work with children whose parents spend their days foraging through the Guatemala City dump.

2009 Alternative Spring Break trip sites:

Experiencia en Ecuador
Empower children of impoverished rural communities by improving the quality of schools in Ibarra, Ecuador. Leaders: Jamilah Gurwala (jgurwala@bowdoin.edu) and Hannah Stokes (hstokes@bowdoin.edu).

*Finding Phoenix, Louisiana
Join the rural community of Phoenix, Louisiana, as they continue to rebuild after the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Leaders: Krista Bahm (kbahm@bowdoin.edu) and Elsie Thomson (ethomson@bowdoin.edu).

*Learning Lima
Help cultivate change in the shanty towns of Lima, Peru, by working on a community development project with Solidarity in Action. Leaders: Ike Irby (iirby@bowdoin.edu) and Becca Van Horn (rvanhorn@bowdoin.edu).

*Making Mississippi Home
Learn about and address the issue of affordable housing by working with Habitat for Humanity in Pontotoc, Mississippi. Leaders: Claire Lewkowicz (clewkowi@bowdoin.edu) and Callie Titcomb (ctitcomb@bowdoin.edu).

New Health Awareness in New Mexico
Examine public health issues by working with middle schoolers and talking with health advocates from a Native American reservation in Gallup, New Mexico. Leaders: Matt Shew (mshew@bowdoin.edu) and Nick Simon (nsimon@bowdoin.edu).

Spring to Safe Passage
Volunteer alongside Guatemalan teachers at Safe Passage, an organization that creates opportunities for Guatemala City's poorest children through the power of education. Leaders: Kyle Dempsey (kdempsey@bowdoin.edu) and Suzanne Heller (sheller@bowdoin.edu).

*Urban Promise
Help combat poverty and violence through education with Urban Promise, an organization that works with youth in Camden, New Jersey. Leaders: Whitney Grass (wgrass@bowdoin.edu) and Nga Tong (ntong@bowdoin.edu).

*The partner organizations on these trips are faith-based. However, neither the trips themselves nor the ASB program have any faith requirements of planned, intentional religious components.


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