Alternative Spring Breaks

When people hear "spring break," the first thing to come to mind is normally warm weather, cool drinks and time away from the books.

But at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, many students are finding a constructive way of using their vacation. "Alternative Spring Break" is a program offered to students as an opportunity to participate in a public service experience.

Jamie Knight, a junior, and Aisha Woodard, a sophomore, are representing Bowdoin in New York City this spring break.

"We're working in public school classrooms at an elementary school in the Bronx," explained Knight. "We're also doing an after school program at a Boys and Girls Club, helping with homework or doing craft projects."

And even though these students are trading in warm sunshine for a little hard work, the Alternative Spring Break program is quite popular.

"I think it's definitely a growing trend," said Woodard. "Our trip is one of six going from Bowdoin College. There are three going internationally, and two other going to Mississippi and New Mexico. Even at our small school, it's a huge, growing phenomenon."

They say the students definitely get something in return on their experience.

"For us, it was a way to get out of our comfort zone and do something different and actually have a unique experience," said Woodard.

And do they plan on continuing this in the future?

"I definitely want to do something related with some of the issues we've encountered on this trip," Knight predicted.
by Jenn Eaker