Students spend Spring Break giving back

Samantha Sigler

This year’s Alternative Spring Break programs will be in Tacoma, Wash., building affordable homes with Habitat for Humanity; in Westcliffe, Col., volunteering with Mission: Wolf to restore native wolf habitats; and in Seattle, Wash., to develop an understanding of different ways to work with youth.

While most students imagine Spring Break as a time for relaxation and a week of non-stressful events, other students at Linfield imagine a week of volunteering, giving back to the community and doing their best to help others everywhere. Alternative Spring Break helps students accomplish this.

Alternative Spring Break is a week-long service-learning immersion program that focuses on a specific social issue in a community, said Ashlee Carlson, Change Corps director of Alternative Spring Break.

Carlson oversees the 2013 Alternative Spring Break programs and provides a larger structure for the leaders to work within. She also participated in Alternative Spring Break her freshman year, spending time in Tacoma, Wash., volunteering with the Habitat for Humanity program. She returned to Tacoma as a leader her sophomore year.

Change Corps is a team of student leaders that provides volunteer opportunities in the larger community to help students become active citizens.

However, they are technically not a club on campus. They work through the Office of Community Engagement & Service to provide service opportunities for students to participate in. In the past, students have been able to partake in Linfield nights at the soup kitchen and Alternative Spring Break programs.

“I help the Change Corps service coordinators plan their programs by looking at logistical details for their Alternative Spring Break, such as service hours, itineraries, community partners and meeting facilitation,” Carlson said in an email.

Any Linfield student can participate in the program, but spots are limited to the organization’s capacity to host volunteers. Generally, eight to 12 students, including two student leaders and two Linfield staff or faculty advisers, are allowed in each program.

Students are selected through a blind application process. They fill out an online application, which is not associated with their name for the selection process. Alternative Spring Break leaders, with the aid of Change Corps members, go through the applications and select participants based on each program’s need. They intend to create a diverse group with students from all different majors, years and experience levels.

The three main programs that Change Corps focuses on are poverty, the environment and youth issues in a community.

“We strive to have each student serve 30 to 35 hours during their Alternative Spring Break program while also giving them the chance to bond with their group and the community,” Carlson said.

Throughout the program, students participate in reflection, which is a key component to the service-learning programs.

“It helps students take what they have done and learned on the program to think about how it has affected their personal life, as well as the lives of those they are serving,” Carlson said.

Students are also encouraged to have fun during Alternative Spring Break. There is built-in time to do activities other than volunteering, such as bowling, going to the beach or hiking.

“Alternative Spring Break forces you to step outside of your comfort zone to experience something new and serve in the community or with social issues that you are passionate about,” Carlson said. “In many cases, [it] is only the beginning and most participants will come away with a deeper sense of connection to the social issues and the community.”

For more information students can go to

Samantha Sigler

News editor