Students volunteer in Detroit, Muskegon and Cleveland during Alternative Spring Break


Alternative Spring Break Cleveland UM-Dearborn students volunteered in three cities during the university’s annual Alternative Spring Break. Above, students volunteer at a men's shelter in Cleveland, Ohio.

Spring break is a time to get away from school and relax, but for some students it has a different meaning.

Recently, students from UM-Dearborn traveled to Muskegon, Mich., Cleveland, Ohio, and Detroit, Mich., for Alternative Spring Break (ASB)—a program offered through the Office for Student Engagement (OSE) that provides students with the opportunity to travel off campus for a week, working on service projects and forming bonds with fellow students.

This year, UM-Dearborn and UM-Flint partnered to travel to Muskegon, where they worked with two different agencies—Community Encompass and Muskegon Oceana Community Action Partnership.

Nishanthraag Reddy Venuturla, a graduate student and site leader for UM-Dearborn in Muskegon, was excited about the opportunity to meet students from UM-Flint while helping others in the process.

“Instead of spending my time at home, I thought I would do something productive this spring break,” he said. “Traveling to Muskegon was a great experience and I met many new friends because of the trip.”

Karina Nava, a freshman who participated through Opportunity Scholars, traveled to Cleveland, where participants volunteered at several locations including MedWish, an organization that collects unused medical supplies and then sends them to developing nations.

“The trip was amazing,” Nava said. “But my favorite part was the time we had at the end of the day to reflect; it was then we realized the impact we were making and how we could continue making that impact in our own community.”

Students in Detroit volunteered at sites including as Gleaners Community Food Bank, Starfish Family Services, Beyond Basics, Henry Ford Estate, Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries and Cass Community Social Services.

In preparation, students helped plan their trips through fundraising, team building and learning about the community they served.

Both Venuturla and Nava would recommend ASB to students who don’t have plans for spring break and want to give back to the community.

“Through ASB, you’re able to see how you can help bring awareness to the things that are overlooked in society,” Venuturla said.

Nava believes the program is eye opening and an experience of a lifetime.

“Personally, this kind of trip is part of the real college experience,” she said. “You get to know so many people while gaining skills and knowledge. I’ve discovered new passions and interests, and have gotten to know myself better as a person overall.”

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