UNC students spend spring break serving community

Instead of heading to tropical destinations for spring break, 60 Carolina students will spend their time giving back to the community through an alternative spring break program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

From March 7-15, the students will work with school children, serve meals to the homeless, build a wheel chair ramp and participate in other service activities. Some of the students will be based in Atlanta or Birmingham, Ala., while others will work in North Carolina, in Dunn, Durham, Charlotte, Clinton, Lumberton, Pembroke, Raleigh and Swan Quarter.

The students are participating in the APPLES Service-Learning Alternative Spring Break program. They spent the spring semester preparing for the experience through the two-credit hour course Critical Approaches to Service-Learning. In the classroom, they learned about theories and experiences relevant to social action and community development. The alternative spring break experience will allow them to apply what they have learned through service and advocacy work.

Each group of students will engage in direct and indirect service with community partners in the area, gaining a deeper understanding about the assets and challenges of those communities. After spring break, emphasis will be placed on reflection to encourage active citizenship beyond the break experience when they return to Chapel Hill and their home communities.

“It has been interesting to learn about civil rights in a classroom setting,” says junior Amy Kalinowski, who is traveling to Birmingham, Ala., to focus on civil rights in the community. “I am looking forward to directly applying everything we’ve learned so that I can gain a more personal connection to the issue.”

All APPLES alternative breaks are student-led experiences during which students travel outside of Chapel Hill to engage with a community, performing service while learning about a pertinent topic reflective of that area. Each year, more than 168 UNC students give their time to serve through APPLES alternative break programs, working with community partners that have established relationships supporting these breaks year after year.

By Laura Fisher, an intern in the Carolina Center for Public Service.

Published March 7, 2014.