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University gives students options for spring break

Bowling Green Alternative Breaks, a program within the Office of Service Learning, is offering two service trips for students to participate in during their spring break this March.

Students who turned in an application and were accepted into the program will be traveling to one of two out-of-state sites to focus on a social issue while providing service to a community. Participants will either travel to Indiana, where students will be focusing on affordable housing and community development, or North Carolina where they will focus on water quality and environmental issues along the Hiwassee River.

BG Alternative Breaks President Maddi Georgoff said the goal of these service trips is for students to immerse themselves in a community to learn more about a social issue. Students will be working alongside their peers as well as student site leaders, community members and community partners.

At the Indiana site students will be focusing on affordable housing and community development by renovating, preserving and doing construction work within homes by partnering with LaCasa, Inc.

Along the Hiwassee River in North Carolina, students will be working on preservation of the river and learning proper ways to protect the environment.

Georgoff said there are 20 spots available between the two sites, making a total of 14 people at each site with two graduate leaders and two site leaders at either location. The trips take place March 8 through 15, with the departure and return dates still being determined.

“We’re hoping students would want to go to learn more about a social issue that they’re not familiar with and give back to a community,” Georgoff said.

Assistant Director of Co-curricular Programs Katherine Bowser said service trips like these are often a pivotal moment in a student’s life where they start to develop their active citizenship and become more involved in service.

Sophomore Jayna Clemens was selected to be a student site leader in Indiana for the affordable housing and community development project.

“I’m really looking forward to all of the relationships I’ll be building with the individuals I’ll be going with who are involved leaders on campus,” Clemens said. “Giving back to a community is going to make this a really meaningful experience for everyone.”

Clemens said she and the other student site leaders have been preparing for their responsibilities by attending weekly meetings and talking about the issues that the trips are focusing on.

Georgoff said the idea for alternative breaks came through the Office of Service Learning when a service trip to Detroit, Mich. was coordinated for students.

Bowser said many students that went on the Detroit trip last fall became advocates for the city and became very passionate about the community they worked with. She and Georgoff hope that is one of the end results with the spring break trips.

“Often when they hear someone talk about Detroit in a bad light they will correct them and stand up for the community that they gave their service to,” Bowser said.

The Detroit service trip focused on the social issue of poverty and homelessness within the city. From there, the office wanted to expand and provide more options to students.

“[The Office of Service Learning] decided to develop a program within their office to give students an opportunity to do extended service at a time when they don’t have classes,” Georgoff said. “It’s a national movement but we’re just starting out.”

Georgoff said the Office of Service Learning is going to try to plan more service trips as they become more popular among students at the University. She said there is growing interest in doing international trips in the future.

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