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Dartmouth News
>  News Releases >   2003 >   March

Taking time off for service

Posted 03/01/03, by James Donnelly


Christina LaMontagne '03 (foreground) and Jennifer Ross '03 paint a Habitat for Humanity home in Mayaro, Trinidad, in a 2002 alternative spring break.

Elise Berman '03 with children who now live in the home.
(photos by Anne Sosin '02)
Alternative spring breaks give students a way to serve

Come the end of winter-term finals, 67 Dartmouth students will be headed south for spring break, but not for sunbathing and not just for a much-needed respite from studies. These students, all participants in alternative spring-break trips organized and sponsored by The William Jewett Tucker Foundation, will be doing everything from construction to outreach to the homeless in locations both domestic and abroad. Five trips will occur this year, each lasting between six and 11 days, all focused on giving students the opportunity to serve others.

"The dedication these students have shown to pursuing service opportunities is very inspiring," said Stuart Lord, Dean of the Tucker Foundation. "Many have been working for months to put together the funding and get the planning done in order to be there."

Of the five trips, three will involve building for Habitat for Humanity. Forty-two students will construct houses for families in need, working toward Habitat for Humanity's goal of providing affordable housing throughout the United States. They will work at three sites: Newport News, Va., Lenoir, N.C., and Greensboro, N.C.

Another trip will take 10 Dartmouth students to Jacksonville, Fla., to organize a spring break for children ages 6 to 15 at the Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless. In addition to planning activities for the children for the week, Dartmouth students have spent the winter term sharing information about homelessness with the Dartmouth community and raising funds in order to meet the specific needs of the children. The team will work to improve the recently finished children's study room at the Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless by donating school supplies, reference books, an Internet connection, art supplies and a desktop computer.

In the most far-ranging of the spring break trips, a sojourn to Costa Rica, 15 students will construct a medical clinic in La Carpio, a community outside of San José. At the same time, the project will work to facilitate better communication and cooperation between the Red Cross of Costa Rica and the health providers in La Carpio.

"Our goal is to help students seize this opportunity to broaden their understanding of our global community through interacting and working together with the community we will be immersed in," said Kristen Sramek '03, one of two leaders for the Costa Rica trip.

"We want to do all we can to accomplish our goals in beginning the construction of the medical clinic," added Elise Jensen '03, Costa Rica co-leader. "But beyond that, we hope that for each participant, this experience is a chance to explore issues related to the meaning of service, especially in a cross-cultural setting."

- James Donnelly

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