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April 19, 2017
By Lexi Ryan, media relations assistant
Twenty-eight Northwest Missouri State University students recently traveled to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to assist with flood relief as members of Alternative Spring Break.
Alternative Spring Break, or ASB, is an immersion program that places teams of college students in diverse cultures and communities to engage in community service and experiential learning during spring break.
This spring, Northwest’s ASB students worked with Community Collaborations International to aid victims of the devastation caused by flooding last fall. The flood was the worst disaster in Louisiana since Hurricane Katrina, affecting 200,000 people.
Students painted, hung drywall, distributed and stocked items at a food distribution center, mentored children at a Boys & Girls Club and cleaned up nature trails.
“This ASB experience was important to me, because we were giving back to the Baton Rouge community that is still struggling from a natural disaster that happened last August,” Robert Mann, a service and engagement graduate assistant at Northwest, said. “It is an opportunity for a group of individuals to come together as one and put their time and effort toward a selfless cause.”
In many cases, supplies and household items are gone, and lost pictures and keepsakes were lost. Some families had to live in shelters, hotels and communal centers for months.
“I learned about the Baton Rouge community and the damaging effects a flood can have on an area,” Mann said. “We gained personal insights from the individuals we helped and how their lives were turned upside down in a 24-hour period. Most families lost their homes and all of their possessions and were eternally grateful for the work that the ASB group did during our week of service.”
Founded at Northwest in 2006, ASB annually gives students the opportunity to participate in a week of service-learning and volunteering within a different environment than their own. The mission of the organization is to provide service-learning opportunities for Northwest students while positively impacting the lives of themselves and others. ASB helps students grow through hands-on experiences that engage them in current issues and improve skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and leadership skills.
“I would recommend this to any student, because it is such a life-changing experience,” Bailey Schmidt, a junior public relations major from Maryville, said. “I feel like I not only learned so much about a different area and what happened to them in Louisiana, but I found out more about myself. I truly feel like this trip made me a better person, and I can’t wait to go back.”
In recent years, Northwest students have traveled with ASB to Washington, D.C.; Puerto Rico; New Orleans; Niceville, Florida; and the Dominican Republic.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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