ASB is the acronym for Alternative Spring Break. ASB is a program that many universities have, and can run through various agencies, such as campus ministries, service clubs, or community services offices and it offers students the opportunity to travel either domestically or internationally to serve others during their spring break. Here at Wilkes, the ASB program is run through the Community Service/Civic Engagement Office and for the last two years we have offered 4 trips- 2 domestic trips and 2 international trips. Our trips this year include: Flatgap, KY, Joplin, MO, Costa Rica, and Dominican Republic.
We try to keep the out of pocket cost for students to a minimum, asking that each student going on a domestic trip, pay only $250, and each student going on an international trip $450. However, in order to cover the total costs of each of the trip, each participant is asked also to fundraise. We do a variety of fundraisers, including writing letters to our families and friends asking for donations (if you’d like to donate, you may do so here: http://community.wilkes.edu/asb); several grilled stickies sales, Jail-N-Bail, Stick ‘Em Up and numerous restaurant percentage night fundraisers.
Each of the trips has a different service focus. Our trip to Flatgap, Kentucky, is to serve those who suffer from rural poverty. The service that we do is home repair and renovations with an organization named, “Christian Appalachian Project” or “CAP”. These repairs and renovations range from replacing windows and doors, removal and replacement of flooring and carpeting, painting, roofing, building a deck or hand railing for an existing deck, to in some cases building an addition or whole house from the ground up. Part of our job while we are there is to also get to know the residents who we are serving. We all have a story to share, but sometimes no one to share that story with, and so we bring to them, a ministry of presence.
The second domestic trip, to Joplin, Missouri, will be disaster relief. Last May, Joplin was the sight of massive tornado that ripped through town, demolishing all that was in its path, neighborhoods, stores, and even the newly renovated hospital was left standing in shambles. Our team will be helping residents to rebuild their houses.
The first international trip, to Dominican Republic is an education focused trip, working with an organization called, Outreach 360. The students will stay in an orphanage, and travel into town each day to teach the elementary school students English (ESL). In their “spare” time, during the lunch hour and in the evenings, the students will interact with kids living at the orphanage. Soccer is usually a favorite pastime.
The second international trip, and final trip, is to Costa Rica. The focus of this trip is the politics of coffee. The students will travel to a fair trade coffee plantation, where they will spend the week working with the coffee farmers. This trip is based in what is known as Service Learning. This means, that the students participating in this trip, are also required to take a class (political science), to gain not only a booked understanding of coffee (or any other “cash crop”), but how it can shape a community, or country and the impact it has on various aspects of life, but then to live it, they get a first hand idea of what life is like for those who live there.
The program has had great success, and has seen several students come back to school and change their majors, or add a second major or minor because they have been moved by their experiences.