By Ashley Antonini
NORMAL – Spring break is in full swing for Illinois State University students and while some will be spending their time catching up on sleep, others are traveling to make a change.
Alternative Spring Break is a student run organization out of the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement at ISU. Alternative breaks offer students the opportunity to travel to various places across the nation to volunteer.
Junior Mitch Stengel is attending his third alternative break this week. He believes that the benefits of Alternative Spring Break are multifaceted with one of the biggest benefits being putting others before yourself.
“During the school year we [college students] don’t have time to do things that aren’t for ourselves. In college, everything is very student oriented,” said Stengel. “Over spring break, it is an opportunity where you [college students] don’t have to do anything and so using that platform in order to go help others is the biggest reason [to go].”
Stengel is a leading a group to Louisiana to team up with the organization Junior Achievement. There, he will help teach underprivileged students financial literacy.
As a bus leader, Stengel organized the entire trip by selecting a location, creating a trip itinerary and being responsible for leading a group of 50 students. He believes that this experience will help him with his future endeavours.
“The fact that I can put that I lead this group down to New Orleans to work on an educational project is something that I can carry with me. I can use [this experience] in interviews and as a basis for, essentially, the rest of my life,” said Stengel.
Stengel’s previous experiences have taken him to Winder, Georgia to work with Habitat for Humanity and Paragould, Arkansas to clean up a state park. Though about 250 students attend these breaks each semester, Stengel believes that more should take advantage of the opportunity.
“I think that more students are turned-off because it is their spring break, but it really is an opportunity to change an entire community. Every spring break we take about 250 students around the country to change lives, essentially. The fact that we can’t always fill those buses is sad,” said Stengel.
Alternative breaks also have summer, winter, and weekend opportunities.
Ashley Antonini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.