Students Give Their Spring Breaks to Learning

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During spring break, some people enter wet T-shirt contests in Cancun or just lie down at the beach for the entire week. Some just do nothing. However, there are also those people that give back to the community during their week off, taking advantage of a unique opportunity provided to them.
The UCI Volunteer Center is putting on their 2nd annual Alternative Spring Break Program, where college and high school students are placed into teams and participate in activities that help the community.
Last year was the opening year for this program, and it turned out to be quite successful.
Students did five community service projects which included activities such as working with families at the Ronald MacDonald house, going to a domestic violence shelter, staying two nights at a transitional shelter called ‘Door of Hope,’ visiting a foster care center, and ending the trip with a beach clean-up.
Looking at last year’s program, it’s easy to see how profoundly students benefited.
Edgar Dormitorio, director of the Volunteer Center, believes that students were left with a sense of accomplishment because it was a ‘life-changing experience.’
‘It has created friendships and bonds with the people that have gone on the trip. [The students] got a lot out of the program, in understanding about themselves [and] their own leadership skills and having a commitment to the community,’ Dormitorio said.
According to Dormitorio, the idea is for students to be faced with problems in their community that they may have little or no exposure to, such as poverty, racism, illiteracy and homelessness.
This year, however, will be a somewhat different atmosphere for participants. Twenty students will be able to travel to the Santa Cruz Mountains, where they will be counselors at Camp Campbell, a science camp, from March 28 to April 2.
They will get an opportunity to interact with the kids at the camp, learn about the environment in the area and receive lessons in first-aid training.
Dormitorio explained that the program can be ‘an eye-opening experience. Students get to really learn about what’s going on in their communities.’
If you’re looking to volunteer for something that isn’t a repetitive project day after day, then this is the program for you.
Aside from your normal choices of planting a tree or donating blood, try something new that comes around just once a year. In one trip, you will interact with people who lead different lives, learn about another person’s problems, and you might even walk away with a new outlook on your life. This will be nothing short of an enriching experience.
Since there are only 20 slots available, there will be an interview process which will take place from Feb. 23 to 27.
No previous experience is required, so don’t let that stop you. A $30 service fee is required for the trip, for which transportation will also be provided
UCI has promised to commit to 100,000 hours of community service this year.
If you’re someone who dedicates some of their time to volunteering, then the volunteer Web site will keep track of your hours by just logging in each time.
The Volunteer Center works with several different agencies that include elderly care, children and youth, arts and culture, animals, abuse and more.
The volunteer center continually offers a wide range of programs designed for student involvement. This will give you the opportunity to broaden your horizons by giving back to your community and doing something worthwhile.
Try opportunities like this when they come around. You’ll probably walk away with a little feeling of self-worth.

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