Sacrificing a Leisurely Break for a Chance to Serve Others

Not all college students kick back over spring break. This year, more than 70 Merrimack students, staff and faculty will spend Alternative Spring Break volunteering at one of seven locations.

  • Andria Auger poses with a local girl on a past trip to Peru.
    Andria Auger poses with a local girl on a past trip to Peru.

Alternative Spring Break allows students to visit designated locations and engage in active volunteer service completing tangible tasks such as cleaning or building. This year’s locations include Emmaus, Kentucky; San Diego; Wheeling, West Virginia; Pine Ridge, South Dakota; New Orleans; and sites in Peru and Nicaragua.

Each volunteer group will include a staff advisor and a peer leader — a fellow student who has participated in at least one Alternative Spring Break trip in the past. They will serve the group of volunteers by organizing transportation, housing and schedules.

“We want Merrimack students to have a multidimensional volunteer experience while immersing themselves in the socioeconomics, culture and politics of the region they visit,” said Nicole Benevenia, campus minister and organizer of alternative winter and spring breaks.

Andria Auger ’18, a biology major and social justice minor, has taken part in six alternative breaks and international service immersion trips, visiting locations that range from New Jersey to Ecuador.

“Participating in service trips is always an incredibly humbling and eye-opening experience,” she said. “Each trip has taught me so much about the world around me and the people I share this Earth with, both at the domestic and international levels. The trips have allowed me to grow in so many ways and fuel my passion for helping others, especially those who are most in need.”

This month, Auger’s seventh service immersion trip will take her to Pine Ridge, South Dakota, where she will serve as a peer leader. She will spend the week with the Native American inhabitants of a reservation and work on construction projects such as building bunk beds and skirting trailers.

“I am excited to head to Pine Ridge, and I am very drawn to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend time on such a reservation,” she said. “I hope to learn a lot about Native American spirituality, culture and way of life, both past and present.”

By Heather Notaro
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