University of Delaware
UD students work pulling up rocks and tree roots to smooth out the Graysville section of the Cumberland Trail in east Tennessee.

Spring break service

University of Delaware Alternative Breaks participants serve citizens across states


4:33 p.m., March 29, 2016--A total of 344 University of Delaware Alternative Break (UDaB) students took to the road on Saturday, March 26, traveling to 14 locations across the U.S. for one week of giving back.

UDaB participants spent their spring break working on service projects ranging from trail development in Cumberland, Tennessee, to literacy work in Washington, D.C., and youth development in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A video about the 2016 program is available on the University's YouTube channel.

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The UDaB program, student-run and student-led, was founded in 2010 with its first programs piloted in the spring of 2011. UDaB has grown immensely since its inception, beginning that year with 104 students who traveled to five communities. 

The start to this spring’s adventures began on Monday, March 21, with an official sendoff, at which Acting President Nancy Targett addressed the group. “As a University, we do more than 250,000 hours of service annually,” she said. This commitment to serving others has earned the University a Carnegie Community Engagement classification. 

Each of the 2016 UDaB Spring Break trips is being led by a team of site leaders -- there are 31 site leaders in all -- who are experienced participants with a passion for helping others and for encouraging students to make the most of their time.

Katie Hogan, a junior biomedical engineering major and co-site leader of the Orland, Maine, rural poverty trip, said her love for UDaB stems from a new, enriching experience each year. “I’m probably most excited to interact with the community members and the other volunteers that are in Orland, to understand how they live their lives, what we can do to help them, and the lessons we can bring home,” she said. 

However, it’s not just the local community that she learns from. “That’s what makes this so great. You are meeting students that you wouldn’t meet otherwise on campus and each one contributes something unique.” 

David Yee, Hogan’s counterpart and senior business management major, is looking forward to seeing how each of his participants transforms. “I really want to give people the experience I was given,” he said.

This spring’s trips follow two successful winter legacy endeavors, one with Bright Beginnings, an early learning center for children living in homeless environments in Washington, D.C. This program has run consistently in the spring since UDaB’s inception. The other, a community rebuilding trip with Bridges to Community, took place in Nicaragua.

At the spring sendoff event, Guido Iammatteo, a three-time UDaB participant and senior hotel, restaurant and institutional management major, gave students a key piece of advice: “Pour yourself into the experience. You can’t go wrong.” 

In addition to the 14 UDaB trips, Residence Life and Housing, the Blue Hen Leadership Program, the School of Nursing and the Honors Program are conducting spring service learning in six domestic and international locations.

To follow University of Delaware Alternative Breaks participants through the remainder of their service learning trip, follow @UDaBreaks on Twitter, bookmark the Storify, and engage using the hashtag #UDaB2016. 

For more details on UDaB, visit the Service Learning website or contact Karen Lundin, academic program coordinator at the Institute for Global Studies

Article by Nikki Laws

Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson and Evan Krape

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