Academic Engagement & Community Action
Alternative Spring Break
Emerson College’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) Program began as a student leadership initiative in 1998 when six students and two residence directors spent spring break working with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation sowing wildflower seed beds, installing fencing and performing beach clean-up in Westmoreland State Park in Montross, Virginia. Over the years of ASB at Emerson, this leadership program has blossomed into a popular initiative and a hallmark program of the Office of Academic Engagement and Community Action (AECA).
Across the year, advisors guide student teams as they plan weeklong excursions and raise funds to help defray costs of the program. The program offers site-specific experiences focused on a particular impact issue, depending on a combination of current events and community needs. The AECA chooses at least one national location for service and also operates a Boston ASB through which a cohort of faculty, staff, students, and alumni serve local nonprofits during business hours over spring break. The Boston experience offers opportunities for service to those who may not be able to commit to a week away while emphasizing how easy it is to take ownership of and respond to nearby needs for as much time as they have during the week. All ASBers return to campus and produce a showcase through which they share compelling stories and new consciousness with the Emerson community.
ASB helps Emersonians learn about and from communities as they learn about their own potential to contribute skills, knowledge, and energy to community work. The program emphasizes the school’s core values of moral courage, celebration of diversity of thought and people, and commitment to ethical engagement, collaboration, and meaningful interaction with local and national communities. All of these opportunities let Emersonians practice flexibility while adapting to the unfamiliar—a skill necessary for work and life in the ever-changing 21st century.
Many participants name ASB as one of the most transformative experiences not only of their Emerson careers, but also of their lives.
Through the 2017 ASB, the 14th iteration of the program here, Emersonians will learn and serve alongside community members in Boston and at the El Paso/Juárez border around issues of immigration and human rights.