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Alternative spring breaks build student character

by Deborah Rieselman

Community service has become such a common component of higher education today that some scholarship recipients are required to complete 30 hours of service each year. Few volunteer efforts, however, match the experience of totally immersing oneself in a weeklong alternative spring break.

At UC, the Center for Community Engagement, campus ministries and other divisions organize such trips. Some projects actually last longer than a week and are connected to for-credit coursework, as well. Last March, the following options attracted UC students:

  • Reynosa, Mexico -- 11 students constructed living quarters for foreign aid workers through the UC Center for Community Engagement.
  • Costa Rica -- 14 students worked on a Habitat for Humanity home in a program organized by the colleges of business and arts and sciences.
  • Valencia, Spain -- Six juniors from the College of Applied Science presented class designs for a rowing club along the city's river, as part of their Architectural Problems III class.
  • Frakes, Ky. -- 22 students from St. Monica/St. George Newman Center assisted with construction projects in an impoverished Appalachian community.
  • Louisa, Ky. -- Seven students from St. Monica/St. George Newman Center distributed food and other goods to Appalachian communities.
  • St. Louis, Mo. -- Six students from St. Monica/St. George Newman Center examined causes of poverty and racism and participated in community service projects that included tutoring children.
  • Miami, Fla. -- 30 students from UC's Habitat for Humanity chapter worked on affordable homes for low-income families.
  • Panama City, Fla. -- 15 students joined hundreds of other students to serve free pancake breakfasts and offer free van rides to vacationers in need, through UC's Collegiate Ministry.
  • New York -- Seven undergraduates served as Human Rights Watch delegates to the National Model United Nations and received a briefing from the organization's staff.

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