A spring break with involvement



Instead of spending spring break working on their tans, 120 University of Iowa students will spend their vacation time helping others.

On Saturday, eight groups of 15 students will head to eight cities across the United States, aiming to address specific social issues during their time there.

The trip started four years ago and is sponsored by the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership. Students are required to take a semester-long course called Alternative Break Service Learning, in which they are taught service learning concepts and principles.

UI student and a third-year veteran of the program Amy Lintner will be in Atlanta, focusing on public health. She said her team would be working with organizations such as urban HABESHA Gardens and the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

“The experience is being able to understand your perspective of the world and what that perspective is like for other people,” she said.

Lintner said the goal of the program is not to fix the communities. Instead, the program focuses on supporting missions and initiatives already happening in cities by providing a helping hand she said.

“I’d tell students to utilize their college experience and go outside their comfort zone,” she said. “We’re trying to encourage college students to find something they’re passionate about and get engaged in their communities.”

Rebecca Sievers, the center coordinator for leadership and service programs, said she has seen the alternative spring break program grow in the last four years.

“For the first time, our waiting list is at almost 300 people, which is a lot for us,” she said.

Sievers said the Involvement and Leadership Center has created a program called “Hawkeyes at Home” for students on the waiting list, giving them an opportunity to engage in community service projects in Iowa City in April.

“The students we work with are absolutely fantastic and it takes a certain type of character to say, ‘I want to do more with my week,’ ” she said. “The program provides countless opportunities for college students to engage in a community and be able to work side-by-side with individuals they might not have met if it weren’t for this program.”

UI student and fourth-year veteran of the program Jessica Salpor will be heading to Dallas this year as a site leader.

“As a site leader, I started planning in August for this trip in March,” she said. “It’s a really long process, but once everything matches up, it’s a moment of relief.”

Salpor said she is excited to work with different communities to enhance the lives of populations that are sometimes neglected.

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