For my past two spring breaks, rather than relaxing on the beach at exotic destinations, I’ve spent them with Alternate Spring Break (ASB). Schools all across the country have ASB programs, but each ASB trip goes to a different location and participates in different service capacities. This year, I went on a Habitat for Humanity trip to High Point, North Carolina, and last year, I also went on a Habitat for Humanity trip, but the location was Lynchburg, Virginia.
Some tasks I’ve done at the Habitat sites include painting the interior of the houses and constructing sheds. My clothes often end up paint-covered, and my arms sore from hammering. But, beyond the service work, a very special quality of ASB trips is how close you get to your group. You apply to be a part of ASB, and you are assigned to an ASB trip with 13 other people, most of whom you don’t know at all despite going to the same school. After just a week, you will have shared endless laughs, inside jokes, and meaningful conversations with these 13 people.
I think it’s easy to get comfortable in your own social circle at Penn, so it’s really cool how ASB allows you to branch out and get close to friends that you otherwise would never have met. On my ASB trips, I have had some of the most honest and genuine discussions about issues in life, social justice, and the Penn experience - and the wide diversity of perspectives and backgrounds within the group make it all the more interesting.
Though some people gawk at the idea of doing service work for Spring Break, ASB is truly a reinvigorating break from school and has always helped me gain more perspective about the important things in life. I have met the best people through ASB and highly recommend it to anybody interested!
-Emma H. '17