Alternative Spring Break 2011 gives more choices

Photo of home under constructionNIU’s office of Student Involvement and Leadership Development is offering three separate destinations for students interested in participating in Alternative Spring Break trips next March.

Students can help rural Kentucky residents renovate their homes, tend to wildlife in Oklahoma or help children in Louisiana. Whatever the students decide, they will feel accomplished, connected and a bit tired after their seven days of academic relaxation are over.

“But it will be worth it,” said Becky Harlow, assistant director of Student Involvement and Leadership Development. “Students who have been on past alternative spring breaks get so much out of them. They help solve problems they normally would not have any connection with.”

This will be the third year that her office has coordinated alternative spring break trips. Harlow and her colleagues have seen students transformed from being curious about the issues of poverty, hunger and homelessness to being a part of the solution.

And that solution does not end when the bus returns to DeKalb. Many students stay in touch with the families and students from other colleges they befriend on their spring service trips.

Interested NIU students will have a choice of spending their spring break at:

  • Wildlife preservation and rehabilitation in Broken Arrow, Okla., where students will assist with animal management, marketing, grounds keeping and small building projects.
  • Chavies, Ky., where students will help residents reroof, paint or repair their homes.
  • Or in two locations in New Orleans, La. At one site, students will work with at-risk children who do not know life without the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. At another site, NIU students will help with the rebuilding of rural New Orleans after the hurricane.

Students can expect to work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. “They will be surrounded by the issue,” Harlow said. “They will be working side by side with residents and other college students who have decided to spend their break performing service projects.”

Harlow’s office will help students prepare themselves by conducting a workshops at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct.19, in the Lincoln Hall Lincoln Commons (Tower A).

Each NIU student who takes part in Alternative Spring Break will be responsible for raising $550 to pay for meals and lodging during the week. Some will stay in hotels, others will sleep in hostels and others will stay at volunteer centers.

A seminar to give students ideas on how to raise money for their trip will be held at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, in the Douglas Hall Smart Classroom.

“This is completely funded by the money students raise,” Harlow said. “Students also will be expected to research the problems before they arrive at the sites so they can hit the ground running.”

The deadline to register for Alternative Spring Break is Friday, Oct. 29. “We will give students the option of choosing a preferences of where they want to go, but we don’t want to have too many at one site and not enough at another,” Harlow said. “We want to keep the numbers to 12 to 15 students at each site.”

For more information, call (815) 753-6703 or e-mail AlternativeSpringBreak@niu.edu.

by Gerard Dziuba

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