Students Prepare For 13th Year of Alternative Spring Break Program

Students Prepare For 13th Year of Alternative Spring Break Program

Students Prepare For 13th Year of Alternative Spring Break Program
Allison Elliot and Miguel Munoz-Gomez, site leaders for spring break trips, make and serve pancakes during the AWOL fundraiser on Nov. 6, 2011.

Buena Vista University students will soon be participating in the 13th year of its service-based alternative spring break program, known as AWOL (Alternative Week of Off-site Learning).

Since AWOL’s first year, 463 students have participated and provided over 16,500 hours of volunteer service, says Ashley Farmer-Hanson, director of civic engagement.  This year, 37 students are scheduled to take part.  

The AWOL service themes and locations for the week of March 31 through April 8 are:

  • Children and Poverty (Dallas, Texas): Students will work with Bryan's House (, a special-care facility for children affected by HIV or AIDS, children with other special health needs, and their families.  Bryan’s House was also visited last year by students on the AWOL “road trip.”
  • South Dakota Pine Ridge Reservation Immersion: Participants will head to the foothills of the Badlands in southwestern South Dakota to work with the Oglala Lakota tribe and will focus on home repair projects with community outreach intended to improve the quality of life of the people in this area through interaction, shared resources and volunteer service. 
  • The Heifer Ranch (Perryville, Ark.): The students will explore issues surrounding hunger, poverty and sustainable solutions and be challenged to examine their own habits and consumption through a simulation requiring them to build a fire, cook their own meals and sleep in simple housing. (
  • Hunger and Homelessness (Chicago):  In this “urban plunge” experience, students will have many opportunities to serve and experience multiple service projects to stretch their faith, open their eyes, and have their heart touched. Ministry sites and activities include: Visit By The Hand, Chicago Public Schools, Breakthrough Ministries, Greater Chicago Food Depository and World Vision’s Chicago Storehouse.