Many students return to school with spring break memories of various trips to Florida, Jamaica, and other warm locations. But for one Ursinus student, spring break was not spent lounging in the sun. Alison Poandl took part in an alternative spring break, “Campus Philly Alternative Spring Break,” where she spent five days in Center City, North Philadelphia, Germantown, and Allegheny West, immersed in community service.
Poandl wanted to do something productive over break as well as learn about the particular non-profits they were working with, such as the SHARE food program and the Village of Arts and Humanities. The alternative spring break program was announced through an Ursinus Career Services email and she thought it might be a good experience and a way to meet to new people.
The service projects included packing boxes of food for low income seniors, raking debris from a vacant lot in the Village of Arts and Humanities to create a park and working with elementary school students to clean up their butterfly garden. “I especially enjoyed working with the elementary students at John Wister Elementary because the children were going to an amazing school in what is supposedly a bad district,” she says. “One of my favorite moments was receiving hugs from the children we had met only hours before. They were so open and welcoming to us.”
In addition to the daytime routine improving the environment for seniors and children, the college students were able to enjoy dinner at the Reading Terminal Market, hear the Philadelphia Orchestra, visit the Museum of American Jewish History, and tour both the Eastern State Penitentiary and University of Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Her group included ten students and one leader. “We were able to bond together over the course of five days,” says Poandl. The group stayed in Apple Hostels of Philadelphia in Old City and used Septa transportation all week, which helped orient them to Philadelphia.
“There was nothing I did not enjoy about the alternative spring break,” says Poandl. “It was an interesting and invigorating spring break. I learned a lot, was able to help some people and I had a great time.” – By Kaitlyn Ott 2013