Students Opt For Toil Instead Of Tans On Alternative Spring Break

There’s no doubt that UC students are looking forward to escaping the recent winter blast when they take off for spring break March 24-28. But dozens of UC students will not be basking in a pool chair. Instead, they’ll be baking on a hot roof, working up a sweat for those in need.

The Alternative Spring Break, an initiative that took off across the nation’s college campuses in the 1990s, continues to grow every year. Break Away, a national non-profit organization that trains and connects leaders for Alternative Break programs, started in 1991 with two students. This year, director Dan McCabe says more than 5,000 students representing 59 campus chapters will participate on trips. “I think there is more support for these programs because student service learning centers are becoming more common on college campuses, so there’s a physical location for students to find out about these kinds of services.”

The University of Cincinnati Center for Community Engagement, established on campus in 1996, organized two Alternative Spring Break trips to Mexico this year. “We barely got the information out there about the trips, and they filled right up,” says UC graduate assistant Sandra Sherman. Here are details on those trips as well as others planned by UC student organizations:

OVER THE BORDER -- Just over the border from McAllen, Texas, students are traveling to Reynosa, Mexico, to work on a rural elementary school. They’ll be building a playground and constructing desks for classrooms. A total of 25 people with the UC Center for Community Engagement are traveling to Mexico. A team of 11 people will be working in Reynosa. The group departs from Cincinnati March 22 and returns on March 29.
Contact:  William Harris, director, Center for Community Engagement, (513) 556-1559.

NEXT STOP -- Along the Gulf of Mexico, a team of 14 students that are working with the Center for Community Engagement will stay in the rustic fishing village of Carboneras. Students will construct a dormitory that will house future volunteers to the area, plus they’ll assist local families with home improvements, such as pouring concrete floors.
Contact: William Harris, director, Center for Community Engagement, (513) 556-1559.

STUDENTS FOR SALVADORAN SOLIDARITY -- This UC student group will attend an annual conference in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador. The conference “educates students on the reality of life in a third world country,” says student club advisor Jonathan Weller, a UC Admissions officer. Each of the students paid $300 to go on the trip to learn about issues such as social justice, culture, alternatives to gangs and environmental concerns in El Salvador. They’ll also be bringing school supplies such as binders, pens, notebooks and old books in Spanish, donated by University Libraries. Weller says Cincinnati Public’s Hughes Center donated many of the used school supplies. The group will depart March 22 and return March 29.
Contact: Jonathan Weller, student club advisor, (513) 556-1073.

SWEAT AND SAND -- Students from UC’s Habitat for Humanity will be hard at work, but will still fit in some beach time, when they head to South Beach to assist the Greater Miami Habitat for Humanity. Twenty UC students will be building affordable housing in the community of Overtown. They’ll depart Cincinnati March 22 and return March 30.
Contact: Beth Granger, student organizer, E-mail

CHOIR TOURS THE SOUTH -- UC’s popular African American Cultural and Research Center Choir will take its annual tour of the south, as 45 students perform at colleges and high schools in Nashville, Houston, Dallas, Austin, Mississippi, Tuskegee, Ala., and Atlanta. The group will depart on March 21 and return March 30.
Contact: Ewaniki Moore, program coordinator, (513) 556-1193.

“HARD LABOR” IN THE BIG EASY -- A group of at least 25 UC members of Collegiate Ministry is heading to New Orleans. The students will repair homes in the mornings and will assist school tutoring programs in the afternoons. Students will depart Cincinnati on March 21 and return on March 28.
Contact: Ken Dillard, pastor, (513) 281-6403.

ASSISTANCE IN APPALACHIA -- The UC Lutheran Campus Ministry is gearing up for a trip to the Mountain T.O.P. (Tennessee Outreach Project) Ministry in the Cumberland Mountains. Students will work on home improvements such as painting and rebuilding crumbling steps. The group of seven will leave UC on March 23 and return on March 28.
Contact: Kirsten Springmeyer, Lutheran Campus minister, (513) 861-5444.

KENTUCKY CONNECTION -- The St. Monica/St. George Newman Center is guiding the trip to the Red Bird Mission in Beverly, Ky. Students will depart UC for Eastern Kentucky March 23 and return on March 29. The 30 students will assist in roofing, painting and landscaping homes in the depressed area of Bell County.
Contact: Mickey Sheibley, campus minister, (513) 381-6400.

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