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Alternative Spring Break Groups Share Experiences

April 28, 2015 at 1:21 pm
By Mara MacDonell

Last week, students who participated in Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trips got a chance to share their experiences with the greater Carleton community. One group of students worked with Habitat for Humanity in Waterloo, Iowa. Habitat for Humanity helps low-income families stay out of poverty by providing them with a stable home. Recipients of homes work closely with the organization and volunteers, making the raising of a home a community endeavor. During their 5 days, the dozen students built the interior wall frames for a house, as well as helped refurbish the oldest house in Waterloo. The students were all smiles as they reminisced on their experience. Not only did they have fun, they felt they made ties with the community and made a positive impact on poverty. Many participants came into spring break without carpentry experience, but were thrilled that they learned the skills to build the interior of a house. To the participants, this was a sign that everyone has the power to make positive change.

Another group of students headed north for spring break to Finland, Minnesota, to learn and work at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center. Wolf Ridge is a year-round learning facility that caters to school groups across the state, teaching students about the natural world and sustainability. One new project for Wolf Ridge is the creation of a farm that can provide food to the school year round and give them food indepence. The ASB students learned how Wolf Ridge currently operates and also learned about its new mission to be food independent. ASB students assembled greenhouses, dug beds in existing greenhouses, and planted seeds for spinach and carrots. Students were excited to see the actualization of ideas learned in an academic setting. This was particularly exciting due to the remote northern location of Wolf Ridge. Idealized notions about farming were truly challenged as the snow fell, yet students felt that food independence in this location is within reach.

Both ASB groups had amazing experiences of learning and working. One student commented that even though it was hard work, it still was vacation, because they were doing something different. Furthermore, the students left we a greater knowledge of the power they have to make positive change in their communities and beyond.