Spring break 2014

Spring break is next week, and I want to share with you the exciting story about VCU’s Alternative Spring Break.

Eight groups of 12 students, representing a variety of majors and interests, will travel to one of the following eight destinations to provide service to each of the different communities’ needs:
• New York City, NECHAMA
• Chalmette, N.C., Carolina Tiger Reserve
• Nashville, Tenn., McNeilly Center for Children
• New Orleans, St. Bernard Project
• New Orleans, City Park
• Kissimmee, Fla., Give Kids the World
• Tampa Bay, Fla., Metropolitan Ministries, Homeless Food Kitchen
• Dominican Republic, children’s center

Together, these VCU ambassadors will give approximately 4,000 hours of community service by the week’s end.

But their efforts didn’t just begin. There is a long legacy of service by VCU students, in Richmond and beyond, and these students have been planning and training for these service engagements this entire academic year.

You see, the students involved in Alternative Spring Break not only emphasize the importance of community engagement, they put a great focus on personal growth and reflections. Their goal is threefold: direct service to help these communities, motivational service and continued service.

They exemplify what I mean when I say VCU’s unique educational experience is about more than completing 40 courses — you have the extraordinary opportunity to take what you learn in your classroom, laboratory and studio, and use it to help people in the community. Plans are already underway to expand ASB beyond spring break to include service projects here in Richmond during reading days and mini breaks. Take a moment to watch what Augustin Joseph, Class of 2014, president of ASB at VCU, has to say about Alternative Spring Break and sustainable service at a recent TEDxJamesRiverRoad event here in Richmond.

I look forward to seeing their leadership in action.

In the coming week, they will be using #VCUasb2014 to share their photos and experiences from each of their trips. Whether you are traveling or staying in Richmond this spring break, I encourage you to follow them — both on social media and maybe even in their footsteps next year.