Thousands of college students take advantage of spring break to hit the beach. But, for the students who participate in Florida State Alternative Breaks (FSAB), it is a time to serve.
This year, five student-led teams will travel to different locations to work with a local agency during Florida State University’s spring break March 9-13. The purpose of these trips vary from providing access to clean water in the Dominican Republic to exploring the future of human rights by exploring part of the 1960s civil rights movement in Selma, Ala.
“Our service immersion experiences are about building community and learning about the root causes of a social issue,” said Jillian Volpe White, program coordinator of FSAB. “Students select a trip based on the social issue they are interested in serving, not where they are going. It invites a sense of adventure and commitment to a cause versus being drawn to a specific location.”
Students participating in the FSAB program this year found out their destination or which organization they were going to serve at a matching event in January.
The five-member group that is traveling to Selma will depart Tallahassee at 4 a.m. Saturday, March 7, to be a part of the 50th anniversary of the peaceful civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery that ended with Alabama state troopers using tear gas and clubs against the protesters — also known as “Bloody Sunday.”
“We were very lucky to have our dates align with this monumental event,” said Inman Sakinah, an FSU student who will lead the Selma group. “It’s such an amazing opportunity to not only see President Obama make a landmark speech on the iconic bridge in Selma, but to also remember the past and reflect on how we can create a better and equal future for everyone.”
For the rest of their time in Selma, Sakinah and her team will work with the Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit organization that empowers young people.
“While the march in Selma was pivotal to the civil rights movement, the city has been left behind and a lot of progress that was supposed to be made hasn’t,” Sakinah said. “There are still stark disparities that need to be countered through grassroots movements such as the Freedom Foundation. Our trip has a rich combination of learning about the history and reflecting on how that history is actually playing out today.”
Student groups will also work with agencies at the following locations:
The Florida State Alternative Breaks program is based in FSU’s Center for Leadership and Social Change and is a part of Break Away, a national organization dedicated to training, assisting and connecting campuses and communities to promote quality programs that inspire lifelong active citizenship.
To learn more about Florida State Alternative Breaks, visit thecenter.fsu.edu/FSAB.