Alternative spring breakers head to Jamaica

Though Spring Break for some is synonymous with long nights and booze binges, 11 hard-working students and faculty members are planning a vacation of a different kind.

These students are planning something alternative.

Alternative Spring Break is a student-run program started in 1995 as a way for students to travel to different parts of the world and aid communities in need. They do construction projects, tutoring, and anything their host country or city needs. This year, they plan to go to Petersfield, Jamaica.

The group has three advisors: Melinda Mills, Jan Rousse, and Jessica Duncan, all who are passionate about what the group stands for.

“It speaks to the importance of global education and demonstrates how Castleton is working toward that,” said Mills, professor of Women’s Studies. “I started having a conversation with Jan at a football game about the different opportunities and expressed my interest.”

Duncan, a recent Castleton graduate, credits her career choice to her abroad volunteer experience. Duncan was the leader of Project El Salvador back in 2010.

“I went and realized it made me happy. The experience changed my life and that’s when I realized this is what I wanted to do” Duncan said

Last year, the ASB group didn’t go on its scheduled trip due to unforeseen circumstances.

“Unfortunately, one of the leaders didn’t return and that put a huge hole in the group” said Rousse, the assistant director of the Stafford Center for the Study and Support of the Community.

But this year has been different and the group is focused and working hard.

“I don’t know if it’s a difference of work ethic between this year and last year, but we have new leadership and it is exemplary,” said Mills. The new leaders of the group are Megean St. John and Alex Davis, both seniors.

ASB has a list of more than 25 fundraisers either planned or that have already taken place. Recent efforts have included selling hair feathers and baking pies for Thanksgiving. “We fund raise for every cent. It takes a committed group of amazing individuals to make this happen,” Rousse said.

Upcoming fundraisers include a spaghetti dinner at the Blue Cat Bistro on Feb. 12. Tickets for this event are $12 in advance and $14 at the door. An ongoing fund-raiser is a raffle drawing for a handmade electric guitar. Tickets are $4 for 1, $10 for 3, and $19 for 6 tickets. Tickets for both events can be purchased in the Moriarty house or by contacting any person ASB member.

But why do they do this. Why give up 10 days of break to help others? Sophomore Maggie Mullin summed it up.

“It’s so much fun and it changed my life. I definitely would enjoy going on vacation for fun with friends, but if I had to choose that or ASB I would do this. People don’t realize how great it could be. It made me realize how fortunate I am for things that I do have.”

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