If you’ve taken a quick glance around the blog, you’ve probably seen posts about the absolutely amazing experiences of participating in study abroad, research, or internships. These are what we call high-impact experiences, and are the essence of the Furman Advantage (aka experiences Furman guarantees will be available for every student to participate in at least once, if not more, during their Furman career). But high impact experiences come in all shapes and sizes and are abundant at Furman.
My freshman year I decided to take a risk and ditch the typical college experience to participate in a lesser-known high-impact experience: an alternative spring break program.
Alternative Spring Breaks (ASB) are one type of trip offered through the Furman Alternative Breaks (FAB) program. FAB trips are tight-knit student-led trips that center around building community and active citizenship, sustainable partnerships, and understanding various social issues. So far only trips have been offered during the spring break week, but we are looking to offer trips over other typical school breaks in the future.
Here are some reasons why you should take an Alternative Spring Break:
- You build long-lasting friendships with people from different communities all across campus
“Something I really loved about our ASB is that one student, Hailey, let us use her apartment as sort of a “home base.” After we finished exploring barriers to health in Greenville for the day, we would go back to her apartment, cook dinner, and discuss what we had learned. It was a place where I felt comfortable discussing the difficult things we would learn each day, and I got to know girls from every graduating class really well! At the end of the week, we got Hailey a cookie cake to say thank you for being our “mom!” Even though she was 2 years older than me, I would still say hi to her every time I saw her around campus, and I’m really grateful for that friendship!” – My friend Maddie (pictured first from left) who participated in a program that explored barriers to health in Greenville.
- You go into the community and learn about challenges and problem-solving from community leaders
For the time we spent in Greenville, my trip visited community leaders and important sites for understanding how we reckon with justice in our own community.
We visited an African American cemetery established after the Civil War in Brutontown (a neighborhood not too far from Furman) and learned about the community initiative to clean up the cemetery and discover the identities and stories of those buried there.
We used our resources at Furman to access Ancestry historical records and research some of the names in the cemetery. It was incredible to find little bits of history, and I found that the man I researched actually lived a couple streets down from the house I lived in before coming to Furman!
“One thing I loved about the Alternative Spring Break was the opportunity to meet new people both at Furman and in the Greenville Community! The ASB I went on was called “Barriers to Healthcare” and we talked with many non-profits and medical facilities on the challenges low-income families face when trying to access healthcare. After my ASB, I continued to reach out to some of the people I encountered, and they now are amazing resources and connections for me! I would highly encourage any student to do an Alternative Spring Break as I felt I was doing something meaningful with my time, met awesome new Furman friends, and I learned a TON about healthcare, non-profits, and local businesses in Greenville!” – My friend, Kristin (pictured first from left) who also went on Barriers to Health.
- You learn unexpected, but incredibly meaningful things about yourself and others
As part of my trip we traveled to Charleston in the last couple days to learn more about our history of slavery. We visited a plantation and took a tour with a really amazing guide who asked us to think about what courage looks and feels like. As black women who care deeply about honoring and bringing justice to our communities, visiting a plantation was really tough, but the idea of courage really stuck with my friend, Adare, and I and became a theme we continued to bring up throughout our Furman careers. (Adare is pictured on the right)
- You get really, really silly
Because you’re in an intentionally small group and spend all day with the same bunch, you get close very, very fast. And in between the seriousness of some of the experiences of the week is a lot of silliness.
Some of my favorite memories are singing at the top of our lungs in the car on our way to Charleston, teaching my friend Par how to make pancakes (because she’d never made one or eaten one in her entire life!), and taking little dance breaks everywhere we went. (Par is featured in the picture with her first ever pancake)
- There truly is something for everybody
Alternative Breaks are a hidden gem at Furman. The trip I took was one of the most meaningful and memorable experiences I’ve had. I got to learn more about a subject I felt passionate about and meet incredible people at Furman that I might not have otherwise connected with, as well as inspiring community leaders who are truly breaking boundaries. I had so much fun that I honestly didn’t want the week to end.
If you’re interested in learning more about Furman Alternative Breaks you can do so by clicking here!
By : Asha Marie