As Centre College students recently returned from spring break, 15 of them are looking back on the life-changing experience they had during their Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trip to Chicago.
ASB, an initiative created by Centre Action Reaches Everyone (CARE) and the Office of Community Service, provides students with the opportunity to spend their break serving a community in need.
“Alternative Spring Break trips are a great opportunity for experiential learning for college students,” Greg Chery, Director of Community Service and The Bonner Program said. “Students choose to use their spring break to learn and serve others.”
“I decided to go on this trip because I wanted to do service and learn about various, distinct, controversial and complex subjects, in a place that is seen as a very low-developed, poverty and violence filled area,” first-year Evan Aroko said.
While in the past there have been multiple ASB destinations, this year, the group traveled to Chicago to the Brother David Darst Center, what Chery described as an urban immersion trip. As part of the experience, the team learned about different social justice issues that are currently impacting Chicago.
“Most of the trip provided education about the city,” first-year Kore Severance said. “The first day, we did direct and indirect service. The rest of the week, we went around to different sites that are doing things to improve the city.”
The team visited a food pantry, a men’s homeless shelter and an immigration vigil. They also had discussions about several of the issues impacting Chicago, such as food insecurity, homelessness, mass incarceration and the education system.
First-year Dahabo Kerow said the trip was especially difficult due to the fact that it challenged their humanity.
“It brought situations that we typically diverge from, and placed us in the center of them so that we could go beyond the surface and see the root of the issue,” she said. “When we went to Chicago and did our service projects, many of them were observation based, so we could see the humanity of the victims of homeless, poverty and systemic injustices.”
Overall, the experience these students had in Chicago was eye-opening, inspirational, informative and fun.
“The fact that I was able to witness so many people and organizations who were willing to just help those in need was touching, inspiring and filled me with hope for the world we live in and the people who reside on it,” Aroko said.
by Kerry Steinhofer
March 30, 2017