When Lesley students came back to campus after Spring Break, many excitedly exchanged stories of catching up with friends from home, or talked about how they took a vacation with their family. But for 25 Lesley students, they were swapping stories about what they did during Alternative Spring Break, an opportunity to perform service and make a difference in a community. This year, the Office of Community Service took these 25 students to either Asheville, North Carolina or Roanoke, Virginia. In Asheville, students worked with Habitat for Humanity for the seventh year; a group of all female students spent the week constructing a house with Habitat’s program “Women Build.” Meanwhile, a co-ed group in Roanoke worked with a program through the YMCA called “Volunteers for Community.”
Sarah Chafe, the director of the office of Community Service, explains that the objective of ASB is to give students an opportunity to “serve in a community outside of what they usually experience.” Lesley, along with many other colleges and universities, has been providing this opportunity through ASB for a while, and Chafe believes it is a valuable way for students to spend Spring Break. She says, “it gives students a chance to give back.”
Of the students who attended this year’s ASB, I spoke to Hanna Henshaw, a sophomore Secondary Education and Math major. She attended the Roanoke trip, where they performed a few different services. They painted a mural of the solar system at the local Goodwill, an agency which provide 100 bunks and meals to the homeless in the community. When asked what motivated her to participate in ASB, which she had also done as a freshman, she said, “I did it because it was something I missed out in high school, which I really wanted to do.” Also, with reflections at the end of each day on what the team observed and accomplished, she said it was an “incredible experience overall and an incredible opportunity for growth.” Coming from the north, there was some culture shock, but she said everyone had the classic southern hospitality; however, it was strange to walk into a convenient store and see confederate flags. Henshaw said she was reminded of “how happy and blessed I am to be in such an accepting area.”
She also became friend with sixteen other people on campus, all of whom she now has some pretty amazing memories, like the two songs they constantly jammed out to during the whole trip, “Ophelia” by the Lumineers and “Apart” by Ricky Blaze– she recounted that for me with a particularly great deal of enthusiasm. Another part of her personal journey was learning Step Up and Step Back, which is the lifelong skill of finding the balance between letting other people do something and taking the lead. When I asked Hanna if she could sum up her whole trip in one sentence she said no, but she could give me five adjectives: bonding, service, growing, accomplishment, amazing. “From painting the mural, to the gardening, to the friends I made– amazing,” she said.
Looking for a chance to go on ASB or to participate in a service trip? The Office of Community Service is taking another trip with Habitat for Humanity in May; this time, they are going up to to Maine. And there are also many other projects throughout the year at Lesley. To find out more about these opportunities, contact Sarah Chafe at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the OCS homepage at http://www.lesley.edu/community-service/.