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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Students choose the alternative for spring break

While most students will pack their bags for a week of partying, lounging or working on a tan, Michelle Wigianto will spend her spring break serving others. For the third year in a row, Wigianto will volunteer her time off from class to participate in Alternative Spring Break, an annual event at SMU.

“I really love it,” Wigianto said. “I look forward to it every year.”

For the past 18 years, Students Promoting Responsibility, Awareness and Citizenship, or SPARC, has hosted ASB at SMU. While past locations for ASB have included places as far as Guanajuato, Mexico, this year students will travel El Paso, Tennessee, New Mexico and Georgia. A group of students will also make its way to Mississippi to help Hurricane victims.

About 12,000 students from across the country participate in ASB.

Sophomore Ben Wells, the coordinator of ASB, enjoyed his experience volunteering during spring break last year.

“We worked in a very rural, very poor part of Florida with kids doing Junior Achievement and just helping their teachers in elementary school. It was a very eye-opening experience seeing rural poverty and its immediate effect on young kids,” Wells said. “I know for a fact I never would have got that experience staying at SMU for Spring Break.”

ASB offers students on a budget a cheap way to get out of Dallas for the week. All of the trips this year cost between $150 and $185.

“The price has gone up, but it’s such a great deal, and you get that cool warm and fuzzy feeling afterward,” Wigianto said.

About 10 students travel to each location to donate their time to various causes. This year, students will volunteer to aid efforts such as poverty, transitional living for women and children, and environmental causes. Wigianto, a group leader this year, will leave Friday for New Mexico to spend the week working with agriculture.

On campus, most students have probably noticed the several advertisements for ASB. Its “Skip the Beer and volunteer!” slogan explains why ASB is different from your run-of-the-mill spring break experience.

“It’s alternative because no alcohol and drugs are permitted,” Wigianto explained. “You don’t even notice it though.”

Wells agrees that the lack of booze isn’t an issue.

“We have a lot of chances to go out and party during our college career and life in general, but how often are you going to get to do something good for the community, nation and world?” he said.

Wigianto and Wells both value the fact that they have donated their time and labor to a good cause, but ASB is not just a week of hard work. Wells said one of his favorite memories is the road trip, where he was able to bond with the other students who chose to volunteer. Wigianto said that last year, after she was finished working at an elementary school, she was able to relax and hang out with other volunteers.

Wigianto initially volunteered with ASB to fulfill a scholarship requirement for SMU. But, after her first year, she knew she’d be back.

“You really get an opportunity to help people. It’s not just for a day, it’s because you wanted to,” she said. “In the end, you can bond with these people over a really cool experience.”

 

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