The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Spring break 2011: Alt Break, ReNew announce trips

By Kelsey Roebuck

Alt Break and ReNew announced their spring break trips at a joint meeting on Monday, Feb. 7. The Alt Break trip leaders and ReNew coordinators presented five trip opportunities to nearly 100 interested students.

“I’m really excited about the trips,” said Director of Social Commitment Doug Cutchins ’93. “There are really good leaders and really exciting places to go.”

The available trips allow for a range of time commitments, from the full two weeks of spring break to just the first half of break. While ReNew continues to reach out to areas affected by natural disasters, Alt Break is focusing on public health, women’s outreach and urban vs. rural poverty.

Rosemary Rast ’14 is a new addition to the Alt Break Coordinator team and one of this spring’s trip leaders. Those joining her will deal directly with health issues. The first week will be spent at Community Homestead where students will learn how an organic farm can support a number of dependent adults. The second week will be spent at the Heartland Center, which provides entertainment and education to students suffering from HIV, AIDS and diabetes, as well as other illnesses.

“I thought these would be really cool ways to study the ways people address health in a different manner,” Rast said, “because they address disabilities or health by providing communities for these people.”

Alexia Klatt ’13 and Clara Montague ’13 are planning their first trip after a fantastic experience in Galveston, Texas with ReNew last year. An interest in women’s rights and issues drew them to Atlanta, Georgia, where a unique organization entitled Cool Girls Inc. provides positive role models to underprivileged girls in the area. They also plan to work with local homeless shelters and Planned Parenthood.

“It’s fun, I think, because Alt Break has a really big focus on having an engagement with the community,” Montague said. “That is something we really wanted to do, to talk to people and have a really direct relationship.”

Tyler Banas ’13 is leading a group on an exploration of urban and rural poverty on a two week trip to Oregon. The first week will be spent in Portland where students will work in homeless shelters while living in a church with few amenities, in order to fully experience the effects of poverty. The second week will be spent at Camp Myrtlewood in Bridge, Oregon where rural poverty has lingered for years. An old logging community, there are families with upwards of ten people living in dilapidated trailers. Students will hopefully be able to do repairs for those who need them.

“I’m really excited to see which community provides greater support for the low-income population,” Banas said. “At first I thought it would be the urban environment … but I also think there is a stronger community in rural environments.”

The first ReNew trip to stay in Iowa, Hannah Sagin’s [’12] group will be repairing homes and neighborhoods affected by the 2008 floods in eastern Iowa. This one week trip will try to help some of the 5500 houses rendered inhabitable by the terrible floods.

ReNew will also be returning to New Orleans on a 12 day trip to familiar territory. Grinnell’s commitment to social justice has led many graduates to pursue careers as Crew Chiefs in the battle to restore the Gulf Coast. The group hopes to put finishing touches on houses almost completely reconstructed over five years after Katrina. Leslie Bean ’13 and Esther Howe ’11 are leading this return trip.

“New Orleans is a great place,” Bean said. “I’m always really excited to show it off to people who have never been there.”

James Anthofer ’11, an Alt Break coordinator, has been on an Alt Break or ReNew trip nearly every break. Although Alt Break did not receive as many applications to lead a trip as they would have liked, he expressed that he was very impressed with the trips available this year.

“We really liked that all of them are focused on poverty,” Anthofer said. “That is one of our favorite focuses for Alt Break trips because as students at Grinnell you’re kind of in the bubble, a little bit, and it’s really good to get out there and see people who are living in poverty.”

Cutchins also expressed concern as to the low number of students wanting to lead trips, but noted that both programs have been expanding steadily over the last few years.

“These are programs that are really on the rebound,” Cutchins said. “A few years ago these were not as strong as we would have liked.”

The biggest change this semester for both programs is the coordination between Alt Break and ReNew. The new 12-page application allows students to apply to both programs at once and cuts down on competition between groups. The two programs also have joint meetings and support each other throughout the planning process.

“I appreciate the hard work, the effort and the collegiality that these coordinators have all shown,” Cutchins said. “I think both programs are at a really strong point right now.”

The Alt Break Coordinators are Rast, Banas, Anthofer, Alyssa Mezochow ’11, Radka Slamova ’13 and Joo Young Yim ’13.

The ReNew Coordinators are Sagin, Bean, Howe and Allison Brinkhorst ’11.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *