ASB participants prepare for spring trips

More than 500 applicants were selected to attend service trips in Spring 2014.

After weeks of anticipation, hundreds of students who applied to Alternative Spring Break trips received acceptance emails and began preparing for their trips.

“I was so thrilled when I got my email that said I was accepted,” freshman Katy Langdon said.

The program offered 69 trips for the spring of 2014 to more than 500 participants. Destinations include a Native American reservation in South Dakota, a youth shelter in Virginia Beach, Va., and an after-school center for children in Charleston, S.C.

Participants and their site leaders will leave in March.

In the days prior to Thanksgiving break, those accepted to attend ASB trips met their groups and site leaders for the first time and discovered their spring destination and mission.

Eagle Butte, S.D.

Senior Kathryn Grumke will lead 12 students to Eagle Butte, S.D., in a spring trip focused on Native American issues in the community.

The group will collaborate with Okiciyapi Tipi, a nonprofit housing development organization located on the Cheyenne River Sioux reservation, to build houses for the less fortunate, Grumke said.

“I think it is an important (issue), especially because Native Americans are one of the most marginalized groups currently in the U.S.,” Grumke said. “The reservation we go to sits on Ziebach and Dewey counties, which are two of the poorest counties in the U.S. according to the (U.S.) census.”

Senior Benton Berigan, a first-time ASB participant, learned Nov. 19 that he will be going to Eagle Butte. Although the trip is not until March, Berigan said he can’t wait for the trip to begin.

“I indicated the Native American issues as my first (choice) because it was the one I was most interested in, the one I was least comfortable with, and I thought it would not only be a good cultural experience for me but also a good service project,” Berigan said.

Grumke said sharing her passion with the participants is one of her goals on this trip.

“I think the coolest part about the Native American issue trips is that there is a lot of education involved,” she said. “Last year, I came back with a really big passion for changing the current situation we saw, which was a lot of poverty. I hope to have a new group of people care as much about this as I do.”

Virginia Beach, Va.

Another group of 12 will venture to Virginia Beach, Va., on a children’s issue trip.

The group will seek to serve children and youth at Seton Youth Shelter, an organization that has provided shelter to youth in crisis since 1985.

Service trips such as these are a two-way street as community service and personal development, said site leader sophomore Jacob Busker.

“When you go into a service trip, you think to yourself, ‘Man, I’m going to change this community, I’m going to change a kid’s life, I want to help and do good,’” Busker said. “What you pull away with in the end is that you’re not going to be able to do that. What’s going to really happen is that they’re going to impact you, change you, and your life is going to be better because of it. It’s hard to reckon that you are gaining from this, too.”

Busker traveled to Greenville, S.C., in Spring 2013 for a similar ASB children’s issue trip.

“With children’s issue trips, you find kids in these homes who have been neglected and abused, and there is a reason they’re there,” Busker said. “You have this vulnerable group of kids who didn’t choose where they are in life, and it’s a good opportunity to go help them.”

Senior Jessica Miller, one of the participants in Busker’s trip, said her mother called her a “mission trip junkie” because she enjoyed going on service trips so often.

“I loved going on them so much and saw ASB as a similar experience,” Miller said. “I want to go into education, so children’s issue was a natural choice for me.”

Charleston, S.C.

Sophomore Alana Simpson will lead a different children’s issue trip that will also deal with education and food insecurity problems in Charleston, S.C.

The group will volunteer with a local food bank in the morning and work with Wings for Kids in the afternoon, she said.

“(Wings for Kids) is an afterschool program that gives them another meal and a couple of more hours at school,” Simpson said. “We (will) spend time getting to interact with the kids through playing games with them and doing homework with them.”

Simpson went on the same trip last spring to work with Wings for Kids to serve children in Charleston.

“We bounced between a few different ideas for this year, but it just ended up that we really felt that Wings was the right fit for us and our focus to give participants one-on-one time to interact with children,” Simpson said.

When asked to describe her previous trip with ASB, Simpson only needed to use two words.

“Life changing,” she said. “You get in a car with people who are essentially strangers, and you spend a whole week together and become best friends. It’s something you can’t really do justice by describing in words.”

Junior Morgan Domijan, a first-time ASB participant, is ecstatic about working with children, she said.

“My major is in elementary education, so it’s my passion to work with children,” she said. “I think it is really going to open my eyes in a different perspective — those who are less fortunate or those who are in need, especially children.”

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