| 03.18.2018

Expanding students’ horizons — Alternative service breaks help students promote social justice


University of Idaho students interested in social justice and leadership experience should look no further than the Alternative Service Break (ASB) program.

The ASB trips during summer, spring and winter involve servicing a wide range of social problems such as environmental issues, urban poverty, domestic violence and struggling refugees. 

“You’re learning just as much as you’re giving,” said Rachel Davis, lead alternative service break coordinator.

Davis said ASB teamed up with the Leadership Development Department to create a new program offering free weekend service trips. Nine women at UI will receive the opportunity to participate in a special weekend trip servicing the development of women’s confidence and leadership.

Sign-ups for the 2018 spring ASB trip, a week-long experience based in the Pacific Northwest, are at 8 p.m. Feb. 6 in the Whitewater Room of the Idaho Commons.

ASB wants students to sign up for the service they are most passionate about, so they release the location of the trip after the teams are signed up, Davis said.

“When you spend time in cities and towns, you lose connection with the environment, so we want people to have that connection in order to get motivation to support change,” Davis said.

Davis said the outdoor learning experience helps students gain knowledge in environmental sustainability.

UI student Jacob Kodanko learned about trail maintenance at the Tillamook National Forest over the 2017 spring ASB trip. Kodanko said the best part was being able to interact with a diverse group of UI students.

“There were students from different backgrounds that might not associate with each other usually, but it was amazing to see how much all of us had in common,” Kodanko said.

Davis said whether it’s resettling refugees or people who have been incarcerated, students have assumptions that are quickly shattered.

Davis said having that expanding experience and seeing different perspectives is so impactful.

Davis said sometimes people change their major or career goals after their ASB trips. Davis has gone to the Philippines to work with health and sanitation, to Pittsburgh to repair homes and to Ririe, Idaho, to support education.

“You’re here to learn from your community and it has a lot to offer,” Davis said.

Sierra Rothermich can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu

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