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

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024

Students ditch spring break haunts for community service

Although spring break is a well-needed respite from the dailyschedule of classes, in the last 12 years, a program has beencreated that allows students to collect insight in an area theymight not normally experience.

Teaching in low-income communities in New Orleans and working ata homeless shelter in Alamosa, Colo. are just two of the activitiesthat this year’s Alternative Spring Break program hasplanned.

Sarah Thomas, a senior English major, is this year’s ASBchair. Thomas first participated in ASB her freshman year as astudent-site leader. Student site leaders, who are accompanied by astaff site leader, come up with educational materials for thegroup. They bring in articles about the site, a representative fromthe site they are working with and movies that relate, hoping toprompt discussions about the site and its economic issues.

“The overall goal is to take students into a communitythat they probably would not have contact with independently toengage in service and experiential living,” Thomas said.

With five programs this year, each working in a different area,students will work in low-income communities that some of thestudents are unaccustomed to.

Thomas said the principle point of ASB trips are to encouragestudents to think about social issues. Group discussions challengestudents to discuss the root causes of these issues, and who may beresponsible for making a change in the environment andcommunity.

Each year, the road trip locations are within 750 miles. Afundamental goal of each trip is to gain hands-on experience.Working four to five days on location for eight hours a day beginsto feel like a full-time job.

This year’s trips include the Florida Nature Conservancyin Bristol, Fla., Teach for America in New Orleans, La., KitchenAngels in Santa Fe, N.M., Habitat for Humanity in Oklahoma City,Okla., and La Puente Home in Alamosa, Colo.

Teach for America is a successful program nationwide that givesstudents a chance to tutor children. Most participants outside ofASB teach for two years in a “low-income rural and urbancommunities.” Thomas will be working with Teach For Americaafter graduation, proving her ASB experience to be careerchanging.

ASB began nationally about 12 years ago, and SMU followedquickly behind with its own program.

“The program sounds so serious … but it is a lot offun,” Thomas said.

Thomas said “word of mouth” is the most convincingway to get more people to participate with ASB.

“Once they actually see how much fun a friend had, theyare more likely to have the desire to participatethemselves,” she said. “Sometimes, they come back as acrusader for Habitat for Humanity, making an outrageousdifference.”

In the past, applicants were interviewed.

Now, they simply fill out an application with their desiredlocation, as well as some basic questions so the leaders may get afeel of whom the applicant really is.

ASB focuses on students’ perspective on variouscommunities, giving them a hands-on experience to base theirperspective on.

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