Alternative Spring Break 2016: Tallahassee, Florida
Alternative Winter Break 2014: New Orleans, Louisiana
During AWB 2014, students and staff members traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana to learn about and volunteer with organizations addressing social justice and poverty. Volunteers gave a week of service tutoring children at a local Boys and girls club. Additionally, students served at Resurrection After Exoneration, an organization founded by exonerees that provides transitional services and advocacy for individuals exonerated after being wrongfully convicted of a crime in Louisiana. Students toured the Columbia Parc area (modeled after Atlanta’s own East Lake community), and discussed how the community has changed since Hurricane Katrina. Students also toured the WWII museum, explored downtown New Orleans, and participated in several team-building activities.
Alternative Spring Break 2013: San Juan, Guatemala
Our second international Alternative Spring Break made a huge impact on seven students, two OU alumni (CCE Assistant Director Heather Staniszewski ’02 and volunteer Nancy Boyken ’12), Dr. Schall, Betty Londergan, and the people of San Juan, Guatemala. The group traveled to Guatemala City, took a four hour bumpy van ride to San Juan, and changed their world perspective in one week. Volunteers were placed in groups of two based on Spanish language levels in homestays with indigenous Mayan families and were able to learn more about family structure, daily routines, and culture. At 8 am every morning they met at the EcoSchool for two hours of Spanish lessons and then worked for 6-8 hours of service projects at local organizations. Projects included teaching English to kids (including binomial fractions); assisting a midwife’s ONG planting medicine plants, rebuilding an herb dryer,translating their inventory into English, and painting signs for each plant; working side by side grandparents in the HOPE community garden; assisting an after-school program at the library while learning the local Mayan language of Tz’utujil; and working at a women’s weaving cooperative dying and rolling string to be used in textile work. Each night after dinner with their homestays, participants joined together for a lecture by local people including the Mayor of San Juan in 1972, a female medicine healer of bones, a Mayan calendar expert (who shared each person’s energies, positives and negatives based on their Mayan calendar birthday), and a Mayan Shaman for a spiritual cleansing ritual. In their free time, students traveled to San Pedro to see the market, hiked up the mountain to see the sunrise, and had an afternoon in Antigua.
Alternative Winter Break 2013: New Orleans, Louisiana
Alternative Spring Break 2012: Charleston, South Carolina
During ASB 2012, volunteers worked with Keep North Charleston Beautiful planting flowers, turning garden beds, and distributing 150 bales of pine straw in three area parks; Dream Mission Center painting facilities, delivering food to people in the community, and assisting residents with access to the free food pantry, clothing closet, and medical clinic; Ronald McDonald House cooking dinner for families living there; and Charleston Miracle League helping mentally and physical challenged adults play baseball. Students rested from volunteer projects by leading group games of Pictionary; participated in reflection sessions, cooked meals, heard a presentation by a Gullah Storyteller; toured The Avery Center at the College of Charleston; explored the market in downtown Charleston; played football on the beach, and enjoyed a low country boil at a current OU student’s house. Throughout the week, students met peers with different majors and classifications, learned from nonprofit leaders addressing serious community needs, and challenged themselves and their ability to help others.
Alternative Winter Break 2012: New Orleans, LA
During AWB 2012 and 2013, students and staff members traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana to help with Hurricane Katrina Relief efforts. Volunteers gave a week of service helping remodel damaged homes in the lower 9th ward with Habitat for Humanity; packaged food items for families in need with Second Harvest Food Pantry; and prepared fun activities for the United Saints Recovery Project after-school program. Throughout the week, students learned about the importance of cooperation, patience, accepting others and appreciating the basic necessities we frequently take for granted. Students toured the Columbia Parc area (modeled after Atlanta’s own East Lake community), and discussed how the community has changed since Hurricane Katrina; heard a presentation by the Terrebonne Parish Chairwoman; and spoke with an educator from KIPP Elementary School in New Orleans Parish. Students also explored downtown New Orleans, participated in several team-building activities, and enjoyed Louisiana-style dining.