beginning of the spring semester at Bloomsburg University is usually
accompanied by chilly weather and sometimes a few beautiful snow days. As much
as our students love the first snow, by the time spring break rolls around in
March, everyone is itching for some warm spring weather.
students choose to spend their breaks at home, relaxing and enjoying some time
off from classes with their families. The other traditional option is for
students to travel to places where the weather is much warmer and sunnier for a
week of unwinding and de-stressing far away from winter weather.
few students, however, spend their spring breaks much differently. These
“alternative” spring breakers may still travel, but not to relax on a tropical
beach. They turn their precious week off into a valuable learning experience, seeing
new places and serving communities in need.
BU’s campus, a few organizations plan alternative spring break experiences for
groups of students every year. One such organization is the Catholic Campus
Ministry (CCM). Several students will be traveling with CCM to Stamford,
Connecticut. An alternative spring break for college students from across the
country is being hosted by The Sisters of Life, a community of religious
sisters founded to protect and enhance the sacredness of life.
For Dane Moore, a graduate student in BU’s School Counseling and College Student Affairs program, this
is his first trip with CCM. He is not Catholic, but his fiancé is.
“I wanted to get more invested in the faith, to immerse myself,” Moore said.
“The opportunity presented itself, so I took the chance.” Moore explained that
the trip involves three days of retreat coupled with some hands-on volunteer
experience. The group will consist of about 80 students from a variety of
states including Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Texas, Virginia, Kansas, South
Carolina and New Mexico.
The group will be staying in
Stamford, but will travel to nearby New York City for their community service
days. “They haven’t told us what we will be doing yet, but it will be
hands-on,” Moore said.
Of course, it won’t be all hard
work. The students will also get a day to themselves to explore the city. Moore
is excited for that and more.
“I am most excited about the
retreat, the contemplation time. When I think of this trip versus a traditional
Cancún break, the difference is that there’s a purpose to this trip. It’s a
spiritual and mental experience, and that’s definitely more important to me.”
CCM is not the only group sending
students to do service. Ten students from the BU Honors Program will be going
on program’s second annual trip to Jamaica. This is no trip to the beach,
however. Rather than spending time on the coast, where most spring breakers travel,
these honors students spend time in the rural Jamaican countryside.
They perform a wide variety of
service in various impoverished communities. For most students, this is their
first in-person experience with real poverty, and it is very moving.
“Everyone tells you, ‘Oh, they
don’t have a lot of money.’ But you don’t really understand that until you see
their houses and the fact that there are holes in the roof,” said Shelbi
McGraw, an Honors Program alumni that went to Jamaica last year.
Honors students get the chance to
work in Jamaican elementary schools, interacting with students of all ages,
teaching them simple lessons and bringing American culture to them. They also
visit nursing homes to provide company for senior citizens.
Honors students in
BU’s nursing program are given the opportunity to assist in Jamaican medical
clinics, applying their skills to give basic checkups. The entire group also
assists in the construction of a house for a homeless family. These service
opportunities are rewarding, but the cultural experience is also very valuable
to honors students.
“One of the most important things
about the trip is seeing how different people throughout the world live,” said
Bryce Foster, senior biology major.No matter where they may travel, BU
students partaking in alternative spring break options are prepared to serve
the community and learn along the way.
- Nick Cellucci, junior mass communications major