During spring break a group of Washington State University students traveled to Galveston, Texas to help repair homes instead of having a traditional spring break vacation. Cindy Ola was one of the students who participated in one-of-seven alternative spring break trips offered by WSU and the Center for Civic Engagement.
“This was an experience that I would not trade for anything in the world and I would definitely do it again,” said Cindy Ola.
Ola, junior human development major at WSU wanted to attend the Galveston, Texas trip because she has attended pervious service trips within Washington State and wanted to expand and help other outside communities.
WSU brought Ola and 19 other students to Texas to help repair and rebuild homes for Hurricane Ike victims.
“Through this experience I was able to learn about devastating problems that other communities outside of Washington are facing,” said Ola.
Michael J. Schwartz, student involvement coordinator for the Center for Civic Engagement said this past year civic engagement has received about 120 applications for about 90 spots.
WSU and the Center for Civic Engagement offered trips to students to New Orleans, Guatemala, Washington State, and Galveston, Texas. This year students were most interested in the trips to New Orleans and Guatemala. The students that applied to attend the trip to Guatemala and did not get a position were offered a spot in one of the Washington trips.
Schwartz said he believes the reasoning for many students wanting to participate is because “students are able to get with other college kids to help out.”
Students are also able to meet new friends while having fun and gaining life changing experiences.
Schwartz said the students experiences have been “across the board awesome.”
If any students are interested in attending a trip there are enough spots for everyone because no student will be turned away. The cost of a trip will not interfere with students participating because some trips such as the ones in Washington do not cost students more.
An increase in applications can also be due to students like Ola who have told her peers about her experience.
“I have encouraged friends to take part in different community service projects but not necessarily Alternative Service breaks, but after my experience I know that it is something that I will definitely start doing,” said Ola.
Katie E. Veloz, junior organizational communication major is interested in applying for an alternative spring break trip next year because of the positive feedback she heard about the program and an experience her friend had on a previous trip.
“I would love to go on one of these trips. It sounds like a great experience and a good way to help out those in need.”
Veloz said she is interested in applying for either a Washington State trip or a trip to New Orleans if they are offered next school year.
Schwartz believes the higher application rate and interest in the program will continue to grow each year.