Alternative Spring Breaks 2012

Celebrating its 25th year at SMU, Alternative Breaks is taking more than 90 students to nine sites during spring break 2012 to perform community service: Atlanta; Boston; Crawfordville, Florida; Denver; Los Angeles; New York; Taos, New Mexico; Window Rock, Arizona; and Quito, Ecuador.

Volunteering in Los Angeles

An update from Leah, who participated in the trip to LA, where students are volunteering with AIDS Project of Los Angeles:

Every day, something new and exciting happened in LA, whether it was sightseeing or volunteering for AIDS Project Los Angeles. The staff at APLA was amazing. They were very kindhearted people with great words of wisdom for today’s youth. My favorite thing about the staff at APLA was that they were very upfront with the issues of HIV/AIDS, body image, sex, and sexually transmitted diseases. Our volunteer work ranged from filing paperwork to working in a food bank.

When we weren’t volunteering, our AB group spent as much time as possible trying all kinds of foods in LA and visting places like Santa Monica, Venice, Rodeo Drive, Hollywood Boulevard, and so forth.

My favorite spots that we visited had to have been Santa Monica and the pier, and trying seafood at a restaurant right in the middle of the pier. As a parting gift from LA, on the last day, we ate at a great Chinese restaurant in Chinatown right next to Jon Heder, aka Napoleon Dynamite. LA is a great city to experience culture, and I wouldn’t mind visiting again.

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Supporting Habitat in Denver

An update from Thomas, a first-year physics and math major who participated in the trip to Denver, where students worked with Habitat for Humanity:

Alternative Break in Denver was a blast. We worked with Habitat for Humanity’s “ReStore” resale outlets for three days at two different sites.

We spent a majority of the time making the ReStores more accessible for shoppers. Also, some of us built things out of scraps for the ReStores to sell on Earth Day.

On the last day, we helped with a build. We were split into two groups. One group worked outside putting up boards for the side of the house. The other group spent most of the time indoors putting up insulation inside the garage in order to make the house warmer for the owner.

Overall, I had a blast spending my spring break working with Habitat and also with my awesome group-mates!

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Hard work and fun in Florida

An update from Alaxandria, a biochemistry major who participated in the trip to Florida, where students performed environmental restoration:

Went to Wakulla County in Florida. Worked on the forest refuge with 12 others with a man named Trixie. He was hilarious, and I had a great time working with my group. We all worked together and got along fine. It truly was a great experience.

Each day I grew more appreciative that I was chosen to attend. I had some lifetime experiences getting the chance to swim in the ocean/beach and swim in a spring. My favorite part was the entire trip.

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Breaking for history

An update from Vanessa, a junior majoring in biology and anthropology. She is participating in Alternative Spring Breaks in Atlanta, where students are working with organizations that serve veterans and the homeless:

Today, we were able to go to the MLK Historic Site during our lunch break. It was incredible seeing all of the history behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, especially the original photographs of him with his family.

Although this was not planned for our trip, we decided to go through history. When would we have such an opportunity again? We watched a video clip of highlighted events from the 1930s to the present day that included excerpts of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  There was a video exhibit of his life events, and a collage of newspaper clippings from his funeral and presentations at his local church and at prestigious universities.

Afterward, we headed back to the organization where we are volunteering to make phone calls to the top 100 Atlanta-based companies to sponsor veterans. Some of us called local hotels asking for donations of toiletries. It was a unique experience asking for help, but worthwhile getting donations from people who care about veterans as much as we do.

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