Attention America: a small percentage of your college students are NOT planning to take rum showers in Cancun during spring break. Increasingly, colleges offer alternatives to the sun coast bacchanalia for kids who want to spend a couple of days doing a little good in the world. Here are examples:
* At Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, 30 Baptist students will head to Panama City, FL to provide free van rides to spring break revelers from any school who may need assistance in sobering up and finding their way home safely. They will also serve free pancake breakfasts. Methodist, Presbyterian and Bible Church student groups are headed to other projects. Among them, trips to Americus, Georgia to help with a Habitat for Humanity House, to Belize to help build an orphanage; and to service projects in Mexico and Romania. More than 100 students will take part.
* Hope College in Holland, Michigan is sending 345 students to 23 locations in the US and abroad to volunteer over spring break. Projects range from tutoring students in California, to helping renovate housing in rural Appalachia to working on medical missions in Mexico, Honduras and Nicaragua.
* Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas sponsors student-led spring break campaigns to churches and outreach programs. This year, 350 students in 25 campaigns will travel to ten states, Canada, Honduras and Mexico. Examples: Seventeen students are heading for Calgary. While there, they will assist the Mustard Seed Project, a group that works with the homeless. Senior John Hawkins from Texarkana, Texas is leading 22 students to Chicago. They will work with inner-city food deposits, women's shelters and an alcoholics anonymous group. Each year since 1995, head track coach Bryan Phillips has led students to Honduras to help build houses. This year eight are going.
* A total of 134 students from the University of the South in Sewanee, TN will go to Jamaica, Costa Rica, Ecuador, New York City, New Orleans and Miami to help with work projects. A few examples: building a shop for a craftsman and playground equipment in Jamaica and helping at a home for abandoned children there; aiding with reforestation efforts in Costa Rica; helping at three AIDS clinics in New York; working as teachers' assistants in inner-city New Orleans schools; assisting migrant farm workers in Miami.
* A dozen students from Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ will go to the Dominican Republic March 14-21 to help out at an orphanage in Santo Domingo.
* Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, PA has its 11th annual Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trip planned for the first week of March. This year Wilkes students are working with the Appalachian South Folklife Center (ASFC) in Pipestem, West Virginia. ASFC is a nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to a mountain heritage of freedom and self-reliance. Community service activities include yard work, painting, maintenance, cleaning and repair projects to homes; work at community centers and at the Folklife Center. The beneficiaries are local disabled, elderly, and low-income residents. The group will also participate in educational programs on historical, cultural, and recreational aspects of Appalachia.
* University of Denver students go to the desert village of El Tepetate in Mexico where they work on community renovation projects. Why El Tepetate? About half of the village's 2,000 persons live in Denver much of the year. Because Denver's spring break is short this year-only six days-18 students elected to do their El Tepetate service in December. Next year they will go back to holding it during spring break.
* Fifteen students from Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA will go to two Haitian towns, Fondya and Pandiassou, on Feb. 21 to help teach English, work in the medical clinics, help build ponds for aquaculture and plant trees for reforestation. Another group will stay in the US and work on a Habitat for Humanity house.
By Albert H. Lee