MU Offers Alternative Spring Break Program

6 years 8 months 4 weeks ago Sunday, March 20 2011 Mar 20, 2011 Sunday, March 20, 2011 7:23:00 PM CDT March 20, 2011 in Continuous News
By: Reported by: Daniel Spewak

COLUMBIA -- In less than five days, hundreds of students across the city will migrate south to celebrate a week of spring vacation.

One MU program offers an alternative, however, to the wild spring break activities portrayed on MTV-- and it's called Alternative Spring Break.

The program will send around 200 students to several destinations across the country for service projects. According to president Raha Obaei, the number of applicants to the program nearly doubled this year.

"Instead of doing something like going to Panama City and getting drunk, the alternative is that we are alcohol-free and students spend seven days doing service work with 11 other students," Obaei said.

One trip will head to New Orleans next week to help with Hurricane Katrina relief. Other groups will travel to smaller towns like Slick Rock, Colo., where students will work on environmental projects.

Obaei went to Birmingham, Ala., last year, and she will spend next week helping a small town in Florida recover from this summer's oil spill.

"I can't think of anything more rewarding than spending a week of your time helping people, and being around other people who enjoy helping people," Obaei said.

The trip may involve work, but Obaei said it does not feel like a job. Starting in the fall, Obaei said each group bonds through planning and meetings before the actual trip even begins. Each group also receives one "free day" during the seven-day trip to explore the area and take a break from service work.

More than 400 students applied for the Alternative Spring Break trips this year. According to ASB policy, some students-- including those on academic probation and those with violent arrests-- are not eligible to apply. However, Obaei said the program is fairly lenient and evaluates situations on a case-by-case basis.

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