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The program, now in its 13th year, was a great success as students were involved in public service projects, such as tutoring, mentoring and serving meals at a soup kitchen.

Pictured: ASB volunteers read to a young student.

Photo by Justin D. Knight

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Alternative Spring Break 2009: Continuing a Legacy of Service
By Michael Olajumoke

ASB 2009 Volunteers Photo by Justin D. Knight

For years, Howard students have chosen to forgo the usual spring break traditions of rest, sun and fun to give back to various communities. This year proved no different as more than 300 students traveled to communities in Washington, D.C., Detroit, Chicago and New Orleans and volunteered for the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program. The program, now in its 13th year, was a great success as students were involved in public service projects, such as tutoring, mentoring and serving meals at a soup kitchen.

“I really believe service changes lives,” said Paula Whetsel–Ribeau, Ph.D., the first lady of Howard and the executive director of ASB. “It changes the lives of those serving and those being served."

The projects focused on major issues affecting the communities in which the students served. For the students in New Orleans, it was continuing to help with the effects of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. And in Washington D.C, students worked with various high schools, with a focus on violence and low literacy rates.

In Chicago, students worked with several schools on the South Side of the city and addressed the problem of gun violence in the community. Working with Rev. Dr. Michael L. Pfleger, pastor of the Faith Community of Saint Sabina, the students also lobbied legislators in the state capital, Springfield, for passage of a bill that would require universal backgrounds for any gun purchases in the state.

In Detroit, the students focused on the low graduation rates of African-American high school students, by demonstrating the importance of education. Howard students also worked with the Salvation Army, served food to the homeless and read to school children and their parents.

For Anique Hameed, a freshman Broadcast News major, her experiences with the children made an impression on her. “I wanted the children to know that they are divine, and that they have the power to create change within their environment,” she said. “This trip has broadened my perspective a great deal.”

Ty Axson, a senior journalism major, agreed. "This trip has affected me in all the right ways. It has helped me realize that I need to do more as a college student and that I need to mobilize other Howard students."


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