Students spend week learning and serving

Alicia Balog

2012 Alternative Spring Break Program

  • $250 registration fee
  • Sunday, March 18 to Saturday, March 24

Buffalo, New York

  • $250 registration fee
  • Sunday, March 18 to Saturday, March 24

Washington, D.C.

  • $250 registration fee
  • Saturday, March 17 to Friday, March 23

Columbiana County, Ohio

  • $80 registration fee
  • Sunday, March 18 to Friday, March 23
  • Three-day $60 option available

Chicago, Illinois

  • $315 registration fee
  • Saturday, March 17 to Friday, March 23

Cleveland, Ohio

  • $100 registration fee
  • Sunday, March 18 to Thursday, March 22

Kent State students will travel to and serve different communities while learning about poverty during the Alternative Spring Break programs this March.

According to the Spring Service Trip website, students can register for one of five trips: Buffalo, N.Y.; Washington, D.C.; Chicago, Ill.; Cleveland, Ohio; and Columbiana County, Ohio.

Ann Gosky, senior special assistant in Quality Initiatives and Curriculum, said in an email that her office organizes the trips each year. This year’s trips cost $60 to $315 depending on what trip students attend, according to the website. Gosky said students can receive one credit hour for enrolling in the class.

The first alternative spring break was to the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, Gosky said.

“From that [2006] spring break after Katrina through 2009, our trips were focused on disaster relief in the Gulf Coast region,” she said. “Then in 2010, we began doing a different kind of spring break. So that’s when we started doing the more local, nothing more than six hours away.”

Some organizations as a whole participate and help during alternative spring break trips. Gosky said youth ministry groups such as the church H2O and United Campus Ministers offer to help lead trips.

Emily Miley, a full-time staff member with H2O, said some of its students who attend the trips offer other students encouragement by having positive attitudes.

“As far as our staff team, we offer assistance by being drivers, by just offering general leadership throughout the week,” Miley said. “Some of us will lead the actual teams of students around East Liverpool. Yeah, and then [we] just kind of offer encouragement to the overall leader — which is Rachael [Esterly] — just kind of support her in her role.”

Students also receive the opportunity to lead trips. Elizabeth Bosworth, graduate in the master’s program for higher education and student personnel, leads the Chicago trip this year.

Bosworth said this role is larger than she had as an undergraduate, but another person will also lead the trip.

“We’re also going to have student leaders,” Bosworth said. “And they’ll do most of the reflections.”

Alyssa Dunlap, in the same master’s program as Bosworth, said she led the Buffalo trip last year as an alternative spring break supervisor. She said one of her most rewarding experiences was seeing what the team accomplished while refurbishing a house with Habitat for Humanity.

“Over the course of four to five days, you could really see the house starting to take on this transformation,” Dunlap said. “And it was amazing to be a part of something like that, thinking that that’s going to impact a family’s future.”

Different trips, different service

Students who travel to Buffalo will work on a restoration project with Habitat for Humanity. Gosky said students interact with the Native American population in the area by attending a pow-wow and an elders’ meeting.

“We work with [Native American Community Services], a community service organization in Buffalo that meets the needs of the Native American population there,” Gosky said.

Students who attend the Washington, D.C. trip volunteer at the D.C. Central Kitchen to prepare meals for people and attend workshops at the National Coalition for the Homeless, Gosky said.

“They’re presenting a program to us on what it’s like to be homeless in America, and that presentation is done by people who were formerly homeless,” she said.

On the Chicago trip, students focus on a variety of social service agencies and visit the Hull House before it closes, Gosky said. According to the Jane Addams Hull House Association mission, the Jane Addams Hull House Association improves social conditions of people in Chicago through social programs and reforms.

“So I’m excited that students will get an opportunity to kind of see the impact that the Hull House has had in Chicago over the past 70 or 80 (years),” Gosky said.

On the Cleveland trip, students travel to the Near West Side and meet agencies that serve families below the poverty line. Gosky said students learn about neighborhood gentrification — when housing for poverty-stricken families gets redeveloped as multi-million dollar condos —and how it affects Cleveland communities.

Some students will travel to Columbiana County where they will stay on the Kent State campus at East Liverpool. Rachael Esterly, lead IT user support analyst and instructional technology coordinator at Kent State Salem campus, said students work with non-profit organizations during the week.

Esterly said she organizes speakers to teach students about stereotypes of people in the Appalachian region.

“These are people who have different priorities in this culture,” Esterly said. “Their priorities are family and survival, so it’s not important so much for this community to make a job the number one priority.”

Contact Alicia Balog at [email protected].