News Release: Student Life

Mar. 3,  2010

Constructive Spring Break Alternative Draws Students

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From Emory Report

While many students are headed for the beach or other traditional spring break destinations, some of their classmates will be trading tank tops for tool belts for Alternative Spring Break, fanning out far and near to help communities in need.

Alternative spring break takes many forms, from the student club of the same name to the regional service trips organized by Volunteer Emory and others, but engagement, education, team-building and cultural immersion are common threads.

On March 7, the Alternative Spring Break club is sending 20 participants to New Orleans, a community still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The group will work with Rebuilding Together New Orleans, a nonprofit that rehabilitates homes for low-income homeowners.

"From painting to landscaping - whatever the particular work site calls for - we will be equipped to help," says Kristen Carrillo, an Emory College senior.

"Emory's student-run Alternative Spring Break is honored to be able to provide an opportunity to eager undergraduate students in hopes of bridging communities together through volunteering."

Closer to home, Volunteer Emory is hosting a Staycation service week in Atlanta. Each day will find Emory volunteers working with a different nonprofit partner, ranging from Computers for Youth to Senior Citizen Services.

"Staycation is a chance for people to explore new types of service, with a diverse mix of neighborhoods and issue areas addressed," says Volunteer Emory Coordinator Harold McNaron, who encourages volunteers to serve throughout the week for a variety of experiences.

Non-spring breakers may want to consider their own Atlanta Staycation, with volunteer opportunities still open for faculty and staff. Transportation and meals will be provided. To volunteer, or for more information, contact Carolyn Livingston, 404.727.7195.

Farther afield, a School of Nursing group is heading to the Dominican Republic for spring break. Armed with food, medicine and clothing, the Emory students will work in partnership with Dominican nursing and medical students to serve the Haitian refugee community there, including health screenings and educational outreach.

Among other alternative spring break trips:

· Leland, Miss: Habitat for Humanity build with Center for Women and Volunteer Emory;

· Gulf Island National Seashore, Fla.: Beach clean-up and other activities with Outdoor Emory and Volunteer Emory;

· Mobile, Ala.: Habitat for Humanity build with Volunteer Oxford, Oxford Bonner Leaders and Pierce Institute for Leadership & Community Engagement.

Visit Volunteer Emory for a listing of more alternative spring break trips.

A competitive application process keeps the trips small so that they can be quality-focused, says McNaron, who will be helping with home repair at Volunteer Emory's Applachia Service Project in Jonesville, Va.

The groups travel and room together.

"We really try to make the experience intensive," he says. "There's a lot of team-building and collective learning that happens over a week when you're in a new place with new people doing new things."

Staff volunteers will roll up their sleeves to work alongside students, and support the student leaders in tackling trip logistics and facilitating meaningful discussions.

 "At its best, the alternative spring break program challenges people's ideas," says McNaron. "This is a chance to get your hands dirty with issues you might be studying in class, or encounter on a weekly Volunteer Emory service trip, and to address them directly."

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