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'Eye-opening' lessons for student volunteers

Alternative Winter Break an outreach and growing opportunity

2/1/2012
Student volunteers in Alternative Winter Break program

DENVER - During the recent break between semesters, a group of CU Denver students donned work clothes to participate in community service learning projects in conjunction with the San Diego Rescue Mission. The students volunteered through the Alternative Winter Break program.

“This break was truly an eye-opening experience for me,” said Fatima Moumen, sophomore, accounting and finance major. “I enjoyed every minute of it from the full days of work at the homeless shelter to morning clean-up at the beach. The services inspired me to give back to my community in a bi-weekly basis. I look forward to getting another opportunity in the future.”

Office of Student Life Assistant Director Joe Halter explained how invested students are in the Alternative Winter Break.  “Students don’t get course credit for their efforts, and we share their travel costs so that it’s fairly affordable for students.”

The Alternative Break program is designed to give students an opportunity to participate in service learning projects in various cities. During the recent winter break trip, students worked on a Habitat for Humanity build site, they distributed hygiene items to the homeless population and did clean up at Ocean Beach. 

“Throughout the break week, students also engaged in critical discussions and self-exploration about privilege, ability and the many social justice issues that they encounter while volunteering,” Halter said.

“Alternative Break was an eye-opening experience,” said Loraine Fishman, a junior psychology major. “Along with earning a huge sense of humility from the trip, I value my life so much more now. It was life changing.”

That sentiment was echoed by sophomore psychology major Jonathan Torres, “This trip changed my life and strengthens my decision in life to become a psychologist to help others." 

“The experiences that I had on the Alternative Winter Break trip will resonate with me long after I have completed my education at the university,” said Student Event Programmer Brittany Richardson. She noted that a group exercise during the week regarding random acts of kindness “gave me a new perspective on the homeless and makes me view homeless people in a completely different light. The plight of the homeless is more focal to me now, and no longer lingers in my periphery.”

For more information on how to get involved with Alternative Breaks, visit www.ucdenver.edu/asb

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