I’ve briefly talked about the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program in one of my other posts but it’s important to highlight again! I was able to do community service in Batey Libertad, Dominican Republic over spring break during my freshman year through the Tucker Foundation. I only paid $200 to contribute to the overall cost of the program, including airfare, ground transportation, food, and lodging! I would never have been able to afford to travel to the DR otherwise.
One thing I really like overall about the service trips through Dartmouth is their commitment to increasing consciousness and accountability. While no service is perfect, as you often have to find a balance in order to not establish a relationship of dependency, I feel that our group was more prepared to understand the socio-political context and implications of our presence in this part of the world.
In order to participate in an ASB, I had to apply and then be interviewed. Once accepted, we were had to attend a 2-hour seminar each week for the entire term (10 weeks) leading up to our service trip. During these sessions, we discussed articles and books that we had read previously that explained more about the social and political make-up of the Dominican Republic. This was the first time that I had been exposed to more conscious approaches to service, whereas in high school the emphasis was always placed on the simple fact that you go to an underserved area to “help.” The complexity of these situations were never addressed, so I was really grateful to realize the necessity of understanding the complexity of these situations before inserting myself and potentially doing more harm than good. That was the biggest take-away from the trip for me. It was also a fantastic way to learn more about a very different culture and history, as well as to broaden my perspective and scope on global politics.
There are both domestic and international Alternative Spring Break trips focusing on a wide range of social justice issues, so there’s likely a trip for you! A lot of my friends have gone on the Faith in Action in Washington, D.C. and the Urban Indian Experience in Denver, CO trips, for example. Check out the ASB website to learn more about what other opportunities are available!