Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Alternative Spring Break set to serve across nation this spring

Courtesy of CCE
Students on the 2023 environmental track of Alternative Spring Break trip in Prince William Forest Park in Virginia.

As calendars flip over to March, many students have begun to plan their return home for the upcoming spring break. But 60 students have instead opted for a different opportunity offered by the university: to participate in the Center for Community Engagement’s Alternative Spring Break program.

This will be the third time the program has happened since the COVID-19 pandemic, expanding on what the excursions have looked like previously. This year, the CCE has planned five distinct trips over the university’s spring break week, providing students the chance to make use of the time off by participating in several unique community service opportunities.

“This department itself emphasizes experiential learning, getting students outside of their normal learning environment and getting hands-on opportunities and this is just one of the programs that does that. This program itself is a week-long service trip based on a certain social justice curriculum and it takes the students outside of Massachusetts,” said Mena Vollano, the CCE’s administrative coordinator and ASB organizer.

These trips include an environmental track in Prince Williams Forest, Virginia, Habitat for Humanity tracks in Laredo, Texas and Bel Air, Maryland, a racial justice track in New Orleans and an LGBTQ+ track in New York.

“I know, this year, New Orleans was one of our most popular ones. Of course destination-wise, but also social justice curriculum-wise. A lot of the students are excited to do something meaningful but also have the opportunity to get out of their normal day-to-day community and have a positive influence,” said Vollano.

Each trip was planned to offer a different way of carrying out that community service. The New Orleans and New York trips will put more of a focus on advocacy work and spreading awareness, whereas the Habitat for Humanity and the Prince Williams Forest programs will focus on more physical and labor-intensive forms of service.

Additionally, students on the trip will be living, working, shopping and doing a majority of tasks together during the time they are participating in the events, in what Vollano describes as a valuable bonding experience.

Vollano has been putting the trip together with the rest of the CCE, including several student team leaders tasked with spearheading each of the separate trips.

“I know the leaders have worked really hard and I know they’re excited and that their groups are excited, so we’re just hoping for a great experience and I have a feeling they’re going to have a great time,” said Vollano.

One leader, Asma Akbar, is looking forward to creating what she believes is going to be a “once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

“I have never been camping before, so this is a first-time opportunity to while also doing something productive,” said Akbar, who will lead the trip to Prince Williams Forest. “When else would I have an opportunity to sleep in a cabin and help volunteer for the National Parks Service?”

Vollano and Akbar both stressed their hopes to see students take from the experience and bring what they’ve learned back to Boston.

“This trip isn’t only about going to the forest, it is learning about a community that is not familiar and being able to help them. Students should expect to gain an experience where they learn how to be leaders from one community who can adapt and help out in other communities,” said Akbar.

Alternative Spring Break will run from March 10-16, which is then followed up with CCE’s University-wide Service Day later in the month.

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Arlo Matthews
Arlo Matthews, Staff Writer | he/him
Arlo is a junior print/web journalism major and advertising minor from East Haddam, Connecticut. He is heavily invested in all things arts and entertainment, whether it be music, film, art, or related events in the community. Outside of the Journal, Arlo spends his time writing and releasing folk rock music, as well as co-hosting a radio show. His long-term goal is to work his way into an industry where he can continue to use and spread his passion and creativity.

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