What do you first associate the words “Spring Break” with? The beach? Parties? Sleeping your life away? What about volunteering? The Community Service Center’s Alternative Service Breaks program (or ASB) give students a chance to travel somewhere new in the US or Canada and provide meaningful service. There are over twenty trips that address a variety of topics from environment to homelessness to gender and sexuality. Each one allows students to engage with the community, gain new perspectives, and bond with people they may have never met otherwise.
Last week, I was lucky enough to join the ASB trip to Chicago, IL with eight other students and a faculty chaperone. Our trip focused on the abilities focus area, which primarily focuses on advocacy for and destigmatizing people with disabilities. We spent five days volunteering at the Friedman Place, a supportive living community for individuals who are blind or visually-impaired. And it was the best time. Ever. Our volunteer experience mostly entailed getting to know residents and just making their lives more enjoyable so that we were more acquainted with people of another background and could understand the challenges they face.
I could write a novel to discuss the questions the trip raises, the things I learned, and what I’m walking away with, so I’m not going to do that today (but you are welcome to ask me all about it!). Instead, I just want to express to you all what a great experience ASB is and how you should take advantage of it. For a reasonable price, you are getting an invaluable volunteer opportunity, making lifelong friends, and exploring a new place. And by that, I mean we did have time to explore the city. Do not fret.
It is very important to be involved within COM and gain that professional experience you may need upon graduation, but as humans, we have an even greater responsibility to the world we live in. We should take advantage of opportunities like this to understand populations we wouldn’t normally connect with, give to people and places who may need it, and have fun!
Registration for ASB 2018 won’t be until November, so take your time considering the opportunity, but mark your calendars! You won’t want to miss this.