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

Winter Alternative Break takes students to New Orleans, Little Rock

Over winter break 20 Southern Methodist University students decided to forgo the traditional holiday rituals and instead dedicated their time to helping communities in need.

Two Alternative Break trips were offered over the break: to Little Rock, and another to New Orleans. Both trips focused on rebuilding communities while meeting some of the physical needs of residents.

Sophomores Hannah Bliss and Michelle Craig worked together to plan the Alternative Break trip to Little Rock. They arranged to work closely with Habitat for Humanity in Pulaski County, and the group completed everything from house siding to the repainting of the Habitat ReStore.

“The trip to Little Rock surpassed all my expectations,” Bliss said. “I think the real reason for the success of the trip was the group of student volunteers that came from SMU. They were extremely dedicated, very willing to work and just genuinely compassionate people.”

The New Orleans Alternative Break trip focused on helping people who were affected by Hurricane Katrina. The 11 student volunteers worked closely with Phoenix of New Orleans, an organization that rebuilds homes for victims of the hurricane. The group worked on four different homes around the city.

Junior Matthew Gayer serves as the Alternative Break Program Director.Participating in his fourth Alternative Break, he volunteered in New Orleans.

“I believe these trips are important because it opens the eyes of students to the need in the world around them,” Gayer said. “More than learning about an issue or simply volunteering with a cause, students are thrown into an issue and really explore its impact and causes and reflect on how we may improve the situation.”

This year marked the first time in SMU Alternative Break history that the program planned two Winter Break trips. The program chose to increase the number of winter trips offered for two reasons: To allow students to participate who either could not join the Spring Break program or who wanted to spend their time off doing something more than just going home.

Freshman Alex Brakefield was one of the nine student volunteers on the Little Rock trip.

“Christmas break trips are the best. After all the shopping and decorating, it was a good way to reset my mind on what is important,” Brakefield said. “It was also a good way to meet people who have the same interests as me.”

Alternative Breaks is a student organization that has existed on campus since 1984. Last year, over 75,000 students at 142 member schools participated in Alternative Breaks nationally.

“AB (Alternative Breaks) is more than an organization, it is a global movement involving students from across the country doing service across the world,” Gayer said. “This idea of not just doing service, but reflecting on how to improve our society’s issues while creating future advocates is why I do AB.”

The SMU Alternative Breaks program is offering seven Spring Break trips. Students can apply at and submit applications through the end of January.

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