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AltSpringBreak13A team of UT students is heading to Trelawney, Jamaica, for the first international Alternative Spring Break trip in seven years.

Since 1993, UT’s Alternative Break program has offered students the opportunity to spend their fall and spring breaks engaged in community service projects meant to increase their awareness of social issues and strengthen the communities served.

This spring also will see Alternative Spring Break teams heading to Charleston, South Carolina; New York City; and Chicago. In all, fifty-eight students, eight student leaders, and eight staff and graduate assistants will depart from campus on Saturday, March 15, and Sunday, March 16.

In Jamaica, students will focus on sustainable farming and youth education. Volunteers will create lessons and activities on leadership, service, and sustainability for middle and high school students.

In New York City, students will focus on serving marginalized and underrepresented homeless populations. They will work with an urban garden that provides food for the homeless and work with an organization trying to increase the self-sufficiency of homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth.

Students traveling to Charleston will focus on environmental conservation and beautification. Students will landscape to prevent erosion, remove invasive plants, build oyster reefs in marsh areas, and assist with an electronics recycling project.

Students traveling to Chicago will focus on children living in crime and poverty. Students will assist with early-learning and afterschool programs and work with children with Down syndrome. They will help with music therapy and a sign language program.

The trips are organized by the Center for Leadership and Service, the volunteer hub on campus.

Other campus groups are also using their spring breaks to give back:

College of Law

Fifty-eight students from the College of Law will work on twelve projects in Knoxville and other cities during this year’s spring break, providing pro bono legal services to those in need.

Through the UT Pro Bono program, students serve clients whose needs would not otherwise be met while learning about professionalism, ethics, and the role of attorneys as the gatekeepers of the legal system.

Thirty-three students will stay in Knoxville to volunteer with Court-Appointed Special Advocates for Children, Legal Aid of East Tennessee, the Navy Reserve, the UT Agricultural Extension, and local emergency rooms.

Four additional groups will travel to other cities in the Southeast.

In Chattanooga, Tennessee, students will assist with the La Paz Project, providing aid to those seeking citizenship in the United States. In Atlanta, students will work with Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and Lost-N-Found Youth to provide homeless youth with legal advice. In Cherokee, North Carolina, students will work with the Office of the General Council for the Cherokee Nation.

Also, again this year students will travel to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to participate in the “Wills for Warriors” program, helping current military personnel get their wills, estate planning, and power of attorney documents in order.

College of Nursing

Clinical Assistant Professor Lynn Blackburn will lead eighteen students and two faculty members to Costa Rica for the college’s annual international health care trip. The group departs on March 14.

In Costa Rica, students will attend a one-day seminar about tropical medicine, local dietary habits, and local customs presented by a local physician. They’ll also have a review of Spanish for health care workers. Students will then work six to eight hours a day providing nursing care in private homes, medical clinics, community health centers, and a long-term care facility for terminally ill children.

The students will provide free services and medications to adults and children experiencing commonly occurring acute and chronic illnesses.

School of Music

Hillary Herndon, associate professor in the School of Music, and Emily Zaita, a graduate student in viola performance, will travel to Cange, Haiti, to teach music. They will depart from Atlanta on March 16.

Herndon and Zaita will teach private lessons, lead ensemble rehearsals and teach string pedagogy methods. They will be taking instruments and music accessories donated by musicians from Knoxville and Greenville, South Carolina.

Habitat for Humanity

The campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity will take eleven students to the Collegiate Challenge in Georgetown, South Carolina. The challenge lets college students partner with a Habitat affiliate in another city to build houses for a week.

Christian Student Center

Twenty-one students from the Christian Student Center are heading to San Francisco to work with the Center for Student Missions. They will volunteer at the Bay Area Rescue Mission and CityTeam Ministry, which help the homeless, and at Project Open Hand, which provides meals and groceries to people living with HIV/AIDS and other illnesses. The group will depart from Knoxville on March 16.

Baptist Collegiate Ministry

The Baptist Collegiate Ministry will partner with First Baptist Knoxville to send twenty-four students to McAllen, Texas. Students will help build a home, teach English and business classes, and run a meal program for low-income students ages four through fifteen in the area. 

Wesley Foundation

Twelve students with the Wesley Foundation will travel to Nashville to work with local agencies including Nashville Food Project, Second Harvest Food Bank, and Vine Street, addressing the issues of poverty and homelessness. The group will depart on March 19.

C O N T A C T :

Katherine Saxon (865-974-8365,