Alternative Spring Breaks: Opportunities at UNC Asheville Growing

This Spring Break, a number of UNC Asheville students will be going to various parts of Appalachia and North Carolina to participate in service-learning trips. Mountaintop removal, food security, and Appalaichian poverty are featured issues in three trips.

The Mountain Justice Alternative Spring Break, organized by Asheville Students for a Healthy Environment (ASHE), will be headed to Appalachia, Virginia, to work with citizens to learn how to become more effective organizers around mountaintop removal strip-mining, and participating in service projects that help build community in this region. These students will also participate in workshops on topics ranging from Appalachian community economics to the science of mountaintop removal to what it means to be a movement ally.

The Food Justice trip, sponsored by the Wesley Fellowship at UNC-Asheville, will work at Redbud Farm, an organic farm in Burlington, NC, and spend time learning about food security issues in North Carolina. Student participants will also travel to Durham to meet with staff of the Duke University Divinity School, who study issues of food security and food sovereignty.

The Appalachian Poverty and Social Justice Trip, sponsored by the Key Center for Community Citizenship and Service Learning and the Student Government Association, will be headed to Chavies, Kentucky to work with Appalachia Service Project. Flannery Pearson-Clarke, the student organizer, has been meeting weekly with the participants to facilitate discussions around the history of rural Appalachian Kentucky. The service will focus on home repair and weatherization projects, and participants will reflect on what they are learning about social justice and combating poverty.

Alternative Spring Breaks originated in the 1980s with students who wanted an alternative to the “traditional” spring breaks associated with college students. These students wanted break opportunities that involved a social justice, service, and engaged learning. Alternative Breaks have gained popularity in recent years, particularly in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita along the Gulf Coast.

Students and the Key Center for Community Citizenship and Service Learning hope are using the Alternative Spring Breaks of this year to work toward building a student-led Alternative Break Program at UNCA.

How can I get involved?

The Appalachian Poverty and Social Justice Alternative Break trip is full, but you can still sign up for one of the other two trips:

For the Mountain Justice Alternative Spring Break, register at http://mjsb2012.wordpress.com/register/. Please make sure to fill out the application thoroughly. Contact Macon Foscue if you decide to sign up (dmfoscue@unca.edu). The cost of the trip is on a sliding scale, and transportation will be organized through Active Students for a Healthy Environment (ASHE).

For the Food Security Spring Break, please contact Clarissa at cfuentes@unca.edu or 828.707.0730. The trip will depart Friday, March 2nd and return mid-week. The total cost for the week is $100.

If you are a student who would be interested in continuing to help build a student-led Alternative Break Program next year at UNCA , contact bvolz@unca.edu.