Rather than sitting on a couch watching Netflix or lying on a beach this year, 30 Miami students will dedicate their spring break to helping others. This year’s Alternative Spring Break will travel to Memphis, Tenn. for a week of volunteering, leadership and sightseeing.
Alternative Spring Break, a student organization that has existed for 20 years, offers students another option to spend their weeklong break in another city doing volunteer work.
“Alternative Spring Break is a student organization focused around spring break and we take about 30 students on a trip each year and we go to another city and we do around 30 hours of community service during the week,” said Courtney Frydryk, president of the organization.
During their weeklong trip, students will be volunteering their time to help others in need in Memphis. This year’s trip includes a trail clean ups in two national parks, working at the local food bank and work with Habitat for Humanity, Frydryk said.
Students chose Memphis for its climate as well as its connection to Miami’s history.
“Our first choice was somewhere warmer. Then, we started looking into the Freedom Summer that western campus is connected to,” Frydryk said. “We found that in Memphis they have a civil rights museum and they played a little bit of a role with some of the students from western campus that went to Mississippi. It initially just started as a weekend stop, but ended up turning into the entire trip.”
In the past, students have gone to St. Louis, Mo., Charleston, S.C. and Atlanta, Ga.
The trip is not all work, however. Students get free time to enjoy the city of Memphis as well.
“At night and on the weekends we get to explore the city and be tourists and enjoy our time off school,” said Frydryk.
Students themselves take on the role of planning, funding and executing the trip. While club adviser, Rob Abowitz, who works in the office of residence life, oversees the planning and offers suggestions, he does not lead the planning or go on the trip itself.
“The students make the plans,” Abowitz said. “The students make the contacts. The students make the arrangements… It is truly a student run and student led trip.”
The trip planning process also allows students to grow and develop as leaders, Abowitz said.
For many, Alternative Spring Break offers an opportunity to make the most of their weeklong break.
“I think it will be such a cool experience to get to live with other people for the week all committed to helping people and I think it will give me a new perspective and allow me to experience things I wouldn’t otherwise get to,” said Jenna Tiller, a participant in this year’s alternative spring break.
Students went through an application process earlier in the semester to go on the trip. This year’s spring break is March 21-29.