As Spring Break begins at HWS, students have embarked on Alternative Spring Break (ASB) programs across the country – including a trip to Millville, N.J., in direct response to Hurricane Sandy. The Colleges’ ASB program has established relationships with schools and organizations that rely on the service efforts of HWS community members every spring. Through the program students reach into communities that have specific needs, in response to disaster or to make significant one-time impacts.
In conjuntion with Community Collaborations International, students will serve in coastal communities, working reconstruction projects that are still far from completion. Community Collaborations International has managed more than 5,000 volunteers from more than 70 universities and other groups to provide disaster relief and environmental and human service projects nationally and internationally.
The Hobart and William Smith ASB program is one of the most popular programs offered by the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL). The program provides students with the opportunity to travel off campus and do service work together during one of the precious breaks in the academic year. There are six different trips that are being offered this year with a record number of participants.
“I’m excited about this year because we have three new trips with very different options – disaster relief, educational service in distressed and under-resourced communities, and farm and food justice,” says Assistant Director of CCESL Jeremy Wattles. “We know there is great need in all of these areas and are happy to be able to provide these opportunities to students.”
Students will return to Norlina, N.C., for the 10th consecutive year to work with teachers in their classrooms and as part of the afterschool tutoring program at Mariam Boyd Elementary School. Another education based trip is to South Bronx, N.Y., where students will have the opportunity to work in an urban afterschool program located in St. Ann’s Church. This afterschool program has been famously documented in acclaimed scholar Jonathan Kozol’s books as one of the primer programs serving disadvantaged children. The program will be led by Professor of Sociology Jim Spates.
Students will also travel to Lyons, N.Y., for the third year. During this educational service-learning trip, they will learn about working conditions of migrant farm workers and the agricultural and political systems that intersect in the upstate New York region.
A new trip this year is to Ithaca, N.Y., where students will volunteer at Three Swallows Farm, which runs a youth summer program for children ages 14 to18, related to issues of social and food justice systems. Students on the trip will work in the greenhouse planting seeds, mulching garlic, making jam, and cleaning up bee hive frames. Sarah Meyer, community outreach coordinator of the Finger Lakes Institute, will be leading the program.
In addition to the domestic trips, there is a service trip to Petersfield, Jamaica, which has been running for two years. In Jamaica, students will work with Amizade, an organization committed to empowering individuals and communities through worldwide service and learning. This is a community-driven service learning trip so students will participate in projects that are based on the needs of community members. In the past students have had the opportunity to work on construction projects, teach in schools, take part in architectural design and run a camp for local children.
While the application period for Alternative Spring Break has been closed, students interested in learning about other serve opportunities can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the CCESL office on the second floor of Trinity Hall. There are also a multiplicity of resources posted on the CCESL webpage related to ways that you can volunteer over spring break at http://www.hws.edu/academics/service/alternative_breaks.aspx.
The photo above features HWS students working along the Mississippi River last year.