Monday, November 12, 2007

Alternative Breaks.... At My Age!!

Earlier this year I wrote a news release about a Xavier club called Alternative Breaks. During spring and summer breaks, X students, rather than going to the beach, etc., travel around the world on service projects. Some go to the Ukraine, some to California, Florida or Boston, etc. The work that these students do was truly inspiring to me, so this year I signed up to be a faculty/staff team member on a trip in March 2008.

The faculty/staff team member is truly part of the 'team.' They are NOT the adults in charge. The students run the entire trip. The factuly/staff member is expected to help with fundraising, participate in service projects, etc., just the same as the students. They must also adhere to the same rules such as no alcohol, etc. during any event connected to AB.

I finally learned last week that I will be traveling with 10 Xavier students to Biloxi, Mississippi to help with hurricane relief. It boggles my mind that more than two years later the relief effort down there is still underway. Our group is one of four or five groups heading to the New Orleans area.

I met the students for the first time last week at an outdoor AB gathering on the greenspace. It was a bit chilly, but there was free hot chocolate. Everyone gathered in their respective 'trip' groups and introductions were made... the students talks about their hometowns, their majors, etc. I explained a bit what I do at Xavier as the media relations specialist.

Then there were the icebreakers... the human knot. Each person grasps another's hand until everyone is holding hands every which way across a circle... then the group has to try to untie the knot without letting go. We did pretty well, but didn't quite accomplish the task. Still it was fun. Next were charades with AB and Xavier themes. I lucked out and got 'basketball.' :)

Even though we were together for only about an hour I was truly inspired by the spirit and energy of the dozens and dozens of students who are taking part in this adventure. As I left the evening's activities I was energized by their youth and spark and that fact that they were so accepting of a person more than twice their age! Maybe it's that old adage... "You're only as old as you feel"... that night I felt 19 again.

I hope over the course of the next few months and particularly during our trip to write about this experience. I am very excited about it and can't wait for the adventure to begin.

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