The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024

Alternative Spring Break offers different experience for students

The Alternative Spring Break program at SMU has been around for 23 years and has reached uncharted territory this year.

A total of five trips, including the program’s first international trip, and the advent of a wait list, suggest that ASB has developed a following.

Kat Farmer, an SMU graduate student and the student director of ASB, could not be happier with this year’s turnout. She is a three-year veteran of the program, is in charge of the application process and had a final say in the trips to be taken.

Farmer said that the essence of this program is “about finding your passion on a social issue that you’re interested in, and coming back and doing it in your own backyard.”

The ASB program will take place March 6-14. A student site leader and a faculty or staff member direct each trip. To attend one of the ASB trips, a student does not need to have a background in community service.

Sure, some students have been volunteering for years, but others come on the trip with no prior experience and leave with a new hobby. The site leaders on each trip have usually spent time volunteering, which allows them to guide the other students and offer any advice they may need.

 This year, five trips are being offered, and each one focuses on a different type of service. The trips range from New Mexico and Tennessee, to Colorado, California and Xalapa, Mexico.

The service programs include Habitat for Humanity, HIV/AIDS outreach, education and youth empowerment, environmental preservation and poverty and youth services. With such a wide range of choices, participants can find a life-changing experience that suits their service goals.

While the mission of each trip is built around serving others, the tagline for the program is “lasting experiences and memories.” ASB not only gives students the opportunity to help others, it also broadens their horizons and friendships on an affordable budget.

Each of the four domestic trips cost roughly $150, including food, transportation and lodging. Lodging for the trip can range from churches or hostels to even staying at a student’s home in the area. When students are not serving others, they have the opportunity to enjoy local activities.

Sophomore Jose Campos, recruitment chair and site leader for ASB is leading this year’s first international trip to Mexico. Campos said that while looking for locations for ASB, Xalapa came to mind. Campos thought it would be a good opportunity to travel somewhere that could really use the help of SMU students.

“Xalapa is home to Caritas, a Catholic umbrella service organization which works with the poor and needy of Mexico,” Campos said. “My family happens to have a history of work with Caritas so this facilitated things. We would also have free housing at my uncle’s house.”

Many college students fail to consider ASB as an option, opting for ski trips and tropical vacations.

However, what most of them don’t realize is that ASB gives students the chance to visit interesting places and help others at the same time.

“With ASB you get the best of both worlds. In one aspect, you get to serve others and make a difference in the world.  On the flip side, you also get to have fun doing so,” junior Kate Kirk, who is leading this year’s trip to Tennessee, said.


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