An annual program of Campus Ministry, Alternative Spring Break (ASB) is a week-long trip during the spring break vacation where students embark on a journey to build community, live simply, engage spiritually, and do justice in their assigned location. ASB is the more domestic branch of the Spring Break Experiences (SBE), only including locations within the country. It aims to accomplish its goals in each location through direct service, education, immersion, and prayer and reflection, according to Campus Ministry.

Among the Spring Break Experiences and International Immersion trips, ASB offers trips a bit closer to home. This year, Campus Ministry is offering ten locations, including two new locations: one in Canada (also considered an International Immersion trip) that focuses on adults with intellectual disabilities and another in Los Angeles that focuses on youth empowerment.

When asked how ASB got its start, Liza Manjarrez, Assistant Director of Campus Ministry, explains that “the program has morphed and evolved in a lot of ways since the late ‘90’s…” but is proud to say that in the last five years has doubled in size and participants.

While talking to these participants and student leaders of this year’s Alternative Spring Break experiences, we can see why. Courtney Cooper, a freshman involved in the El Paso Boarder Experience that focuses on immigration issues, says that she chose to sign up for the ASB program because of the ability to do justice on the trip. She says she is eager to see the change in herself after this trip and the change in the people she serves during.

Many students agreed that the idea of community service was what first drew them to the program. Pauline Palos agrees that, “I don’t want to be a couch potato during spring break…” and would rather be making a difference with her week. Sophomore Laura Youngblood had heard good things about the program and thought to herself, “Hey! I can do that!” This drive to do justice is what makes Manjarrez so proud of her dedicated students and fantastic student leaders.

“I heard it was life-changing and I wanted to see how,” says participant, Ayesha Mukaty. Indeed, Manjarrez loves seeing how moved students are by their experiences, big or small. Some may do something as small as take shorter showers and others may return to the location next year as a student leader or even a regular to the organization they served. Senior Haleigh Campbell is an example of this as she is returning to the program this year as a student leader. She loves the immersion aspect of being submerged into different cultures, learning about the issues outside of the classroom setting.

After dedicating their time to conferences, community building activities, fundraising, and weekly team meetings, students begin to get a grasp on what they want to gain out of the ASB program. Like many, Cooper hopes to grow spiritually during her trip. Others like Palos and Campbell, want a better understanding of the social justice issues that their trip will focus upon. Mukaty looks forward to the friendships she hopes to gain among her ASB team and the people she serves on the trip. “I want to gain the ability to see life through others’ eyes,” says Junior Armand Ferreccio.

Manjarrez could not be more proud of her student leaders and participants, knowing that “people can take something from this experience and make a change for the better.”