The Davidson College fall break gives most students an opportunity for weekend trips home, or time to catch up on assignments from the first six weeks of class. Two-dozen students, though, are continuing a Davidson tradition by using the time to conduct a community service project.
Alternative breaks immerse students in the world beyond the comforts of campus. This year, groups traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, and Asheville, North Carolina.
Led by Xzavier Killings '16 and Brodie Martin '16, the Atlanta contingent is spending three nights living and serving in the City of Refuge community development center. The center offers a wide variety of services to people in need from nearby neighborhoods, including food, clothing, shelter, job training, healthcare and education. Davidson student volunteers are spending their nights on-site at the center, and their days primarily mentoring children and serving meals.
A second group, led by Caitie Connor '17 and Benson Klingler '18, traveled to Asheville to work on environmental projects for Asheville Green Works and Long Branch Environmental Education Center. The center engages the public on matters of sustainability, conservation and design. It also hosts a farm that produces berries and vegetables that are donated to people in need, and guest quarters to house students. The students are spending their time caring for the farm grounds.
The Alternative Breaks Program is coordinated through staffer Katherine Bowser in the college's Center for Civic Engagement. This year, Mackenzie Carey '17 is serving as the overall student organizer of the project.
Carey explained, "The purpose of alternative breaks is to get away from the pressure of school and learn about social justice issues."
The trips have become popular among students, and Carey noted that there was a considerable waiting list for this year's trips. Participants pay a $25 participation fee. To prepare for the trips, participants attend several sessions to learn about and discuss the impact of social problems on communities.