GGC students dedicate spring break to community service
This spring break, students at Georgia Gwinnett College are trading beach towels for paint brushes and power tools. The Alternative Service Break (ASB) Program is an annual program that affords GGC students the opportunity to engage in a community-based project during GGC’s designated spring break.
ASB is one facet of the college’s Grizzlies Serve initiative, which provides students with service-learning opportunities.
This year, students will help two local seniors with health and mobility issues and a local Habitat for Humanity family with upkeep and repairs on their homes. The students will get plenty of exercise painting, landscaping, removing a tree, tearing down an old shed and organizing, among other work.
It might not be what most people think of when “college spring break” comes up, but it will be much more rewarding than a typical vacation, said Nury Castro, assistant director of community engagement and service.
Last year, 25 students traveled to Washington, DC, to learn about the intersections of poverty, gentrification and racial justice. In past years, students have traveled to New Orleans and Florida.
“Though we are not traveling far this year, I am excited for ASB because we are still finding creative and safe ways to serve during a global pandemic,” said Castro. “I hope this serves as a reminder to all Grizzlies that no matter what we may be going through, we can always find ways to serve and show up for our communities.”
Castro said participants in the ASB program typically spend a week learning and addressing an issue affecting a specific community while participating in daily activities such as journaling, video diaries and group discussions to critically reflect on their experiences.
The goal is to leave students with a deeper understanding of social issues and inspire them to be more empathetic and socially active.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to serve the community in this way,” said Jesurebor Ivbaze, a senior from Lawrenceville studying general chemistry who will be one of 12 GGC students participating this year. “I’ve participated in numerous Grizzlies Serve events and I’ve enjoyed all of them.”
Ivbaze said this will be his first time participating in an ASB event, and he is very excited to see what the opportunity will bring.
“I hope to be able to connect with the other volunteers, get to know their motivations/reasons for participating, as well as learning more about this program altogether,” he said. “As an ASB volunteer, I hope to leave a lasting impression in the community, as well as within the team.”
Castro predicted that Ivbaze won’t be disappointed. Past ASBs have made a huge impact on the students who participated.
“Through the ASB program, Grizzlies Serve aims to challenge participants to reflect critically upon their role in the global community through service, activism, academic inquiry and leadership,” she said.
The trips provide opportunities to explore social, economic, political and cultural issues through unique immersion experiences, Castro said. The program seeks to empower the individual through intentional service, personal growth, leadership and genuine human connection.