Center for Learning in Action plans local spring break service trips

This year, the Center for Learning in Action is expanding the

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popular off-campus alternative spring break projects that have been successful for years. However, due to the popularity of the off-campus projects, students are often not accepted to their first-choice programs. Also, the price of the programs is sometimes high, making it difficult to afford for students with budget

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constraints. In response, the Center for Learning in Action wanted to provide these students with more options. Similar to the off-campus projects, the goal of the new on-campus spring break programs is to provide group service and learning opportunities.

“We’re hoping that the chance to serve locally in an immersive way will inspire students to engage in other ways at other times,” Paula Consolini, director of the Center for Learning in Action, said.

The hope is that the new trips will expand on the lessons learned from similar programs offered by the College, such as Where Am I?, the Lehman Community Engagement’s monthly service projects, and the Brayton tutoring program. The new options are to be overseen by a subgroup of the Break Out Trips Committee, spearheaded by Lehman Council Advisor Bilal Ansari of the Chaplain’s Office and Assistant Director for Student Involvement Ben Lamb of the Office of Student Life and Chih McDermott ’14.

The activities and community service will take place both on campus and throughout the Northern Berkshires. While the specific partner community organizations are not yet fully finalized, a few aspects of the program are known. Each trip will focus on a specific project or type of project, but the general type of work will include aiding local organizations such as the Council on Aging, the Berkshire Food Project and the local public schools. The programs will also include local excursions. While working on the projects, students will be housed on campus.

“I think it’s an excellent opportunity for students wishing to engage in meaningful and impactful work during what would otherwise be a relaxing break,” Lamb said. “My hope is that this will not only make a difference during the five to six days of doing valuable work here but will open doors and opportunities to both the community and the students participating that they may not have realized prior. Our hope is that we can expose Williams students to the local movers and shakers of the community, as well as the issues and challenges that are faced by the residents of Northern Berkshire County.”

The application will be posted on the Break Out Trips website today. Priority acceptance will be given to students who applied for off-campus trips and were not selected, and there will be a cap on the enrollment of around 30 students. In addition, a fee of $25 will be charged for participating, but this can be waived in exchange for extra work assignments. The programs will run from March 21 to March 26, beginning with an orientation and group dinner sponsored by the Center for Learning in Action.