From mentoring to roof repair, UT spring break trips offer an alternative experience
Published: Mar 28, 2011
A group of students spent their spring break in Knoxville, TN, where they worked with the Knoxville Leadership Foundation, repairing a roof for an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s disease.
Shahana Ansari ’11 was looking for a way to expose her peers to social injustice through direct service.
she turned to the PEACE Volunteer Center and helped lead an alternative
break trip to the Crossroads Group Home in Greenville, SC, where she
and a dozen UT students worked with girls from 11 to 17, most of whom
had been abused and/or were juvenile delinquents.
“I hoped this
experience would allow each of them to return to campus with a new
perspective and inspire them to continue working toward a just world,”
said Ansari, a psychology major with a minor in sociology.
driving the van from Tampa to South Carolina, and spending the week
working with girls who had been physically and sexually abused, you’d
think Jennifer Del Valle ’03, M.S. ’08 would need a vacation.
the associate director of the Academic Center for Excellence said she
came back from her alternative spring break trip feeling refreshed.
“I would do it again,” she said. “I would recommend it to anybody.”
Del Valle said many of the girls in the home were older teenagers who wanted to go to college.
of them probably won’t make it to college, but we talked about how you
can be that one person, even though we just tutored them for one week,”
Del Valle said.
Ansari said these types of trips leave a lasting impression, both on the participants and those served.
the very least, alternative breaks participants return home with the
realization that those of us fortunate enough to take trips like these
have a responsibility to help our world solve the most destructive
problems,” she said, describing a tearful goodbye with the residents
when the trip was over.
Heather Ptak ’12, the other student
coordinator, said it was her 11th alternative break trip, but it was a
whole new experience.
“It truly did make an impact and makes you
appreciate your family and what you have,” she said. “I think we had a
great group of students who are going to bring awareness of domestic
violence back to the UT campus, which is what alternative breaks are all
Tim Harding, director of the Office of Career Services,
went with a group of students to Knoxville, TN, where they worked with
the Knoxville Leadership Foundation, repairing a roof for an elderly
woman with Alzheimer’s disease.
“It was hard work, and work that
most of us had never done,” Harding said. “I think when all was said and
done, and we went back to the house and looked at the roof, there was a
real sense of pride and accomplishment.”
When it rained one day,
the group went to Second Harvest Food Bank in Knoxville where they
labeled pallets of beans and made them available for shipment.
had a chance to interact with the students in a different way than I
ever would in the office,” Harding said. “I actually did a lot of career
counseling on the way up and the way back, talking to the students
about their dreams and hopes for the future, having a conversation about
life. It takes it out of the context of sitting in a formal office, and
puts it up on the roof of a house.”