It’s spring break, and a group of college students is roaming a beach in Florida. Not a surprising image – sunshine, swimsuits, sand, and tans are synonymous with spring break. But this spring, a group of Emerson students will be approaching their spring break a little differently. With the Alternative Spring Break program, three teams will head to three different locations – Boston, New York, and Florida – for one week to dedicate their time to service.
The Boston trip, led by Janet Mullen, will be focused on issues in Emerson’s own back yard, issues that are easy to forget as we bustle past them every day. This trip will especially focus on education. Participants will work with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston on a variety of projects. These Emerson students will get a chance to pass on the benefits of their education to those in their own community. It is a fantastic chance for the participants to learn about education, young people, and the issues that face the Boston community.
Sarah Dwyer leads this year’s New York City trip, themed “Creating a Healthy Environment.” Participants will work with a variety of organizations to pursue this goal as they also take time to reflect upon and discuss what a healthy environment truly is. They will work with a couple of the 127 initiatives that make up PlaNYC, created by Mayor Bloomberg in 2007 to improve and protect New York’s local environment and examine the city’s effect on the world’s ecological health. Of these initiatives, the group of students will perform environmental education with GreenApple Corps and tree maintenance with MillionTrees NYC. However, a healthy environment is not just comprised of nice parks and clean air. Group participants will also work to improve the well-being of New York residents by working on issues such as education, hunger, and homelessness with Youth Service Opportunities Project (YSOP). The New York group will get a chance to examine many aspects of creating a thriving city and share the information that they learned with the Emerson community.
The last group, led by Isabel Thottam, will head to Pensacola, Florida to focus on ecological restoration and sustainability in the Gulf Coast. Partnering with Community Collaborations International, students will work directly with a delicate environment that has undergone great trauma in the past few years, caused by hurricanes and, of course, the BP oil spill. Participants will be able to experience a unique eco-system firsthand, protecting and repairing it while also learning about its local and global significance.
All three trips will be challenging and rewarding for the 42 students accepted this year. These Emersonians are dedicating themselves to enrich communities, fostering a spirit of service and cooperation that, with their help, will no longer seem so “alternative.”