A Local Look at Service

Planning for ASB 2013 is well under way, even though spring break is still more than six months away. That means we’ve been busy refining our definition of a spring break and service, and how those two definitions interact.

Alys and I met as Coordinators for the First-Year Student Outreach Project last summer. We were paired together to take the lead on Urban Engagement (then called “Urban Renewal”). Although community growth and development has always been close to Alys’s heart, it was an entirely new way to view service for me.

Fast forward a year later, and two students impassioned by localism and community empowerment were handed a program with 37 sites across the country. How do you justify sending students to the west coast when there are communities here at home that need their help just as much?

Well, either way, service is service. Communities can only grow when they open themselves to education, experience, and new ideas. Seeing a different way of life helps our community grow, just as outside volunteers coming in significantly changes the communities we serve.

We also decided to bring ASB a little closer to home. That didn’t mean ending our relationships with sites far from Boston. Instead, we wanted to add more options for students who might want to serve populations closer to Boston – or even in it.

Keeping trips close has a few advantages. It means more public transportation trips, which encourages use of buses and subways, and helps keep costs down for volunteers. It means students get to see how different a place two hours away can be. And, finally, we hope it means students will come home and do service here in Boston – helping to keep our local community thriving.

We’ll be posting our official site list once the school year gets under way, and highlighting some of the new (local!) sites we’re very excited about. Check back later for more details on ASB 2013, and as always, feel free to email us at altbreak@bu.edu with any questions.

– Bethany


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