Alternative break students to assists AIDS, cancer patients
September 12, 2005 —
For the second year, Student Life is offering an alternative break program that will take students around the world to volunteer, and educate them on social issues across the globe.
Alternative Breaks is a program that will send groups of 10-12 students outside of Michigan during winter and spring breaks to build leadership skills and compassion for humanity. This year, domestic breaks are available for winter and spring breaks as well as an international spring break that will take place in March and potentially last longer than the other two.
During winter break, students will work with an agency to deliver hot meals to homebound patients with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other illnesses. Students will serve as mentors and positive role models to abused children during the spring break.
The domestic locations are yet to be announced, to deter students from applying based on location alone.
"We think it is important that students who are passionate about the issues apply because of the issues and not location," says Ryan Fewins, assistant director of Student Life.
Guyana, located on the northeastern coast of South America, has been announced as the international location. It is the only English-speaking country on the continent.
Students there will be working with a local Habitat for Humanity, building houses. Student Life says the trip will be cost-effective for those interested, thanks to a grant from the SVSU Foundation.
It is the issues that students will confront that Fewins says form the heart of the program.
"Students will be learning about an important social issue and working against it," he says. "This is an awesome opportunity that students probably will not have after college."
Alternative Breaks Coordinator Carly Toyzan seconds Fewins' thoughts.
"It is a chance for them to face tough social issues," she says, "and use what they learn about the issues to promote social change."
During the program's inaugural year, students traveled to Hammond, Louisiana in the winter to plant bald cypress trees in the bayou and to Nashville, Tennessee in the spring to build wheelchair ramps with the United Cerebral Palsy agency. And while half of the days were spent on service, Toyzan insists the group makes time for fun too.
"Each break has a day off to experience local culture," she says. "The group gets to decide what they want to do." Toyzan says last year's group traveled to New Orleans one day and was able to go canoeing and alligator hunting another.
Though the Alternative Breaks program is relatively new to campus, it is a nationwide program that last year saw more than 38,000 students participate.
"Since we are a newer program, we are really hoping to spread the word this year and get more people excited about it," Toyzan says. "I'm happy that SVSU students can finally take part in this great experience."
Students interested in applying should contact Student Life at 964-4170. The application deadline is Oct 7.