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The Alternative Spring Break: No Day at the Beach

Date: March 9, 2001
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos courtesy of: Anne Fitzgerald Archive: General News

It's a growing trend as students forgo swimsuits and tanning oil and instead pack their heavy-duty shoes and work gloves for spring break. A national organization that promotes alternative spring break projects for high school and college students predicts 30,000 students will perform service projects this year. Among them will be dozens of students from the University of Cincinnati, who will go to work across the country and over the border during UC's spring break March 19-23.

Academic projects will continue over spring break as well. Here are some of the travelers who are finalizing their plans:

OVER THE BORDER - Working with UC Community Service Programs, a group of 10 UC students will travel to Reynosa, Mexico to assist in various construction projects, including painting an elementary school and church. The group will leave Cincinnati Saturday, March 17 and return on Saturday, March 24.

STORM RECOVERY - Ten UC students with the Wesley Foundation United Methodist Student Center are joining the North Carolina Flood Recovery Relief Project over their spring break. The project is part of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) efforts to rebuild and clean up the damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd, which caused more than six billion dollars in damage in 1999. The students will begin their volunteer mission trip in Kenansville, N.C. They leave Cincinnati Sunday, March 18 and return on Saturday, March 24.

GOING TO FLORIDA TO WORK - UC's chapter of Habitat for Humanity will take 20 students to South Beach, Florida as part of Habitat's Collegiate Challenge program. The program works to build affordable houses for low-income homeowners. The UC students will dedicate 32 hours of manual labor to the cause. They'll leave for Florida Saturday, March 17 and return to Cincinnati Sunday, March 25.

INNER CITY OUTREACH - UC students will be touring elementary, middle schools and high schools in Detroit, as they talk with kids about violence intervention, the dangers of gangs, and peer bereavement. The four students are volunteers with the national nonprofit Save Our Sons and Daughters (SOSAD) organization, founded by a Michigan woman whose teen son was shot to death in 1986. Students will meet at the UC Community Service Programs Office at noon Sunday, March 18 and travel to Detroit. They'll arrive back in Cincinnati Saturday, March 24.

CONSTRUCTION IN KENTUCKY - As part of the Christian Appalachian Project (CAP), about 20 UC students will perform home repairs and construction outside Whitley City in poverty-stricken McCreary County, Ky. The students will bunk at a former mining camp in the area. The group will be traveling in two vans and will leave Cincinnati for southeastern Kentucky on Sunday, March 18 and return home Friday, March 23. The students volunteered for the mission through UC Community Service Programs.

APPALACHIAN OUTREACH - UC students representing the St. Monica/St. George Parish Newman Center will be working with an organization called Christian Outreach with Appalachian People (COAP), as 35 students head to Harlan, Ky. Sunday, March 18. COAP is a nonprofit organization that builds and repairs homes for low-income Appalachian families. The students will perform general rehabilitation on the homes, including roofing and landscaping. They'll return home on Saturday, March 24.

STUDENT CHOIR TOUR - As part of their alternative spring break experience, members of UC's African American Cultural and Research Center choir will tour Dallas, Austin, and Houston, Texas; Jackson, Miss.; Tuskegee, Ala.; and Atlanta, Ga., as they visit colleges and universities with predominantly black populations. More than 45 students are expected to take this tour of the south, including students in the new Transitions program, which works to improve retention among UC's first-year African American students. The choir is expected to perform, but specific details of performances are not yet available. Students leave Friday, March 16 and return on Sunday, March 25.

PLANNERS PAVE WAY FOR APPLIED RESEARCH - Four UC planning faculty members will spend spring break reviewing abandoned farm sites in Milan, Italy. This is in preparation for a future collaboration between UC faculty and students, and their colleagues at the Politecnico di Milano. Charles Ellison, professor of planning, says UC and the Milanese school, which is home to a prestigious planning program, have exchanged faculty and students in the past. Furthermore, the Italian school has been part of a program that allows UC freshmen to study abroad before they start their first year classes. By summer and fall of 2002, interdisciplinary teams of UC and Italian faculty, students and planning professionals will work together to develop new uses for the abandoned farms and the many extraordinary buildings on them. The UC faculty team also includes Brenda Scheer, associate professor of planning; David Edelman, director of the School of Planning; and Chris Auffrey, associate professor of planning.

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