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UW-Eau Claire's 'Alternative Spring Break' will take Blugolds on a journey of service

| Lucy Grogan-Ripp

Looking to fulfill your service-learning requirement [AND] get away from home for spring break? Look no further than UW-Eau Claire’s Alternative Spring Break, hosted through the office of Activities, Involvement, and Leadership (AIL).

Spring break 2019 (March 23-30) will mark the ninth anniversary of the trip, where a selfless group of students forego a traditional college spring break to serve underprivileged communities in Indianapolis, Indiana. Students embarking on the trip will have the opportunity to work with organizations ranging anywhere from Habitat for Humanity to local food banks and mission ministries.

While on the trip, students will not only have the opportunity to engage in important community service projects, but also learn invaluable lessons on servant leadership and social justice issues that leave a global impact on our communities.

Each day of the trip involves entirely new service opportunities than the last, meaning no two days are exactly the same. After spending the day serving local communities, the students gather together for dinner and a reflection of their experiences for that particular day.

Richard Stafford, a finance major who took part in the trip during his senior year at UW-Eau Claire, stated that, “Every day on the trip was atypical in the best possible way.”

While most days are dedicated to service, however, the final day of the trip is specially reserved for an opportunity to explore the city.

Jennifer Harvey, a junior geography major who embarked on the trip in 2018, said that, although she was not quite sure what to expect leading up to the trip, it ended up being one of the most amazing experiences of her life thus far:

“I wasn’t necessarily sure what to expect. My spring semester had been pretty hectic...and I hadn’t really thought much about the upcoming trip. Little did I know, this trip was going to be one of the most impactful and beautiful experiences of my life,” Harvey reflected.

Perhaps what made Harvey’s spring break experience so touching was the culmination of providing unparalleled service to those who genuinely need it most and forging strong connections with her fellow student volunteers.

“Community is something that is extremely important to me, and I feel that this trip was very rooted in community, support, love, and a want from everyone involved to serve others...this trip allowed me to meet and get to know 18 incredible individuals that I had never known before that week; these connections and friendships are ones that I feel will last a lifetime,” she noted.

Just as no two days of the trip are exactly the same, the same can be said for the individual experiences and takeaways that each student discovers while on the trip.

While Harvey’s fondest memory of the trip primarily focused on community connections and establishing lifelong friendships, Danielle Faas, a social work major who went on the trip in 2018, spoke of the opportunity it provided to uncover the subtleties of service:

“Before going on the trip, I wanted to give back to communities by helping others. After the trip, I realized I didn’t want to help, but to serve. Serving focuses on creating a relationship that is based on respect and equality. I came to this realization after spending the day at the various organizations through the Wheeler Mission Ministries,” Faas reflected.

For any students considering embarking on AIL’s Alternative Spring Break, Faas had this to say:

“I would recommend this trip to anyone who is looking to become involved with serving others and who wants to learn about the importance of community resources. I cannot imagine having done my service-learning any other way. The experiences and memories I made are invaluable.”

To sign up for this year’s trip, stop by the Student Leadership and Organization Center’s front desk located in the Davies Center room 220. Registration is processed on a first-come, first-serve basis with a $100 deposit required upon registration. With a reasonable cost of $450, all meals, travel, and lodging are covered.

For additional information regarding the Alternative Spring Break, visit AIL’s website or contact Katy Rand at randka@uwec.edu.