Spring Break Not Just a Beach

Some UM spring breakers will hit the road to learn about social issues as part of an alternative spring break program.

From UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (March 06, 2014) — For some UM students, spring break is not about soaking up the rays on Panama City Beach or cruising to the Bahamas; it’s an opportunity to volunteer and learn about social issues affecting communities all over the country.

University of Miami Alternative Breaks (UMAB) organizes volunteer service trips for students during both fall and spring break. The trips expose students to a variety of issues ranging from children and racism in Alabama to drug and alcohol rehabilitation in Colorado.

Three new organizations were added to the list of volunteer sites this year. They include the Medici Project, an organization that fights child poverty in Atlanta, the Children’s Association for Maximum Potential (CAMP) that runs week-long camping sessions for children and adults with disabilities in Center Point, Texas, and La Plazita that promotes cultural healing among Chicano and Native American youths in Albuquerque, N.M.

This spring break, more than 100 students will participate in UMAB. Gerardo Delgadillo, a second-year participant, will spend the week at Harvest Farm, an addiction recovery center for men in Wellington, Colo.

“I’m looking forward to getting to know the community,” Delgadillo said. “Understanding how different environments shape us can also reveal how alike people are at the same time.”

Time for group bonding and reflection is built into every alternative break trip. The time allows for students to get to know each other on a more personal level, and share the initial impacts of their experiences.

“It’s a week that changes your life,” said Miranda Goot, one of three UMAB Site Logistics Chairs. “People are interested in that. They ask, ‘Can such a small amount of time really change your outlook on the world?’ I say yes, come and see for yourself.”

The Friday after spring break, March 21, UMAB students will gather to recount and reflect on their trips. Each social issue group will present a short slideshow of pictures and share how the trip affected them.

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