The Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program at Boston University allows students to travel to parts of the United States they might have never visited in their lifetime. ASB enables volunteers to interact with people of different ages, races, religions, and socioeconomic statuses—resulting in unique bonds and memories for participants.
Coordinators Anthony Dongfack CAS ’20 and Emily Scrementi CAS ’21 began their involvement with ASB during their freshman year. Dongfack’s service with ASB started as a way to share a sentimental trip back to his roommate’s roots in Mississippi. Scrementi attributes her relationship with ASB to the program’s promotion during the First-Year Student Outreach Project.
During his first trip to Mississippi, Dongfack participated in a group reflection activity. The volunteers had to say something they appreciated about everyone in the group. Dongfack recalls this event as his favorite ASB moment: “It was very emotional and you saw how everyone truly bonded over the trip. The group was tearing up and feeling the love from everyone, it was a beautiful thing to see and made me want to go on more trips.”
Scrementi’s trip, which focused on housing security for the elderly and disabled, was unforgettable. While enjoying the beautiful weather, Scrementi’s group painted houses, built wheelchair ramps, and did yard work every day. Scrementi mentions, “when we built a wheelchair ramp, the elderly woman came out and hugged everyone and was so thankful that she was now able to get in and out of her house.” For Scrementi, the ability to see the impact of her service first-hand created a remarkable memory.
As a member of the Achievers Program (a scholarship program for African-American men) in high school, Dongfack galvanized his interest in community service by participating in various types of volunteer work across Delaware. Similarly, Scrementi found her passion for service in high school as a member of the National Honors Society. Dongfack and Scrementi were enthused about the opportunity to continue service work in college.
As coordinators, Dongfack and Scrementi are the main point of contact between the community partners, CSC, and volunteers. Dongfack claims an important role of being a coordinator is to “learn how to facilitate a proper ASB experience by finding ways to talk about social issues with people that may or may not be comfortable with the topic. It is important to educate yourself on the area, socioeconomic status, and community members.”
For Dongfack, the biggest challenge of being a coordinator is “trying to make sure everyone is happy and everyone feels fulfilled. I am not saying that we particularly struggle with that, but I feel like it is the factor that really makes or breaks the trip.” Coordinators do everything they can to ensure the volunteers are having an enjoyable time with the service, reflection aspect, and with each other. Dongfack exclaimed, “the best feeling is when you find out that you did make it the best experience for everyone.”
An expansion of ASB in the future would increase the program’s reach nationally. Scrementi hopes for more service opportunities between Iowa and California. Dongfack sees an opportunity to expand the program by adding community partnerships in Boston. Students who were unable to experience FYSOP could stay in Boston and learn more about the city by providing service to the surrounding communities.
For students interested in joining ASB, Dongfack points out, “You’re adding places, experiences, and connections with ten or more people to your story of why college was great. Also, if you do not have anything else to do for spring break, it is a great way to do something impactful, learn something new, and get out of your comfort zone.”
For more information visit www.bu.edu/csc/community-service-center-programs/asb/.
Andrew Dudley, Staff Writer
Andrew Dudley is a junior in the College of Communication at Boston University who is studying advertising with a focus in political science. You can find him on campus perusing his twitter feed or enjoying his 30-minute walk to class. Andrew’s two favorite things in life are traveling and eating Chipotle, whenever he has enough money in his bank account.