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19 Honors students spend Spring Break discovering Detroit

March 31, 2016

While most students spend their spring break on sunny beaches or binge-watching their favorite show, 19 Honors students traded their textbooks for a chance to give back to city they call home for four years during Alternative Spring Break Detroit (ASBD).

According to the Dean of Students Office (DOSO), students spent the week of March 13-17 learning more about the past and present of Detroit. Daily activates included volunteering at various non-profit organizations, dining at local restaurants, visiting art galleries and cultural hotspots, and getting to know the many movers and shakers of non-profit organizations, local governments, Wayne State University, urban businesses, and the art community and how each plays a role in revitalizing Detroit.

Arts and Scraps, Plum Street Market Urban Farm, Auntie Na’s House, Brightmoor Community Center, Mariner’s Inn, Capuchin Soup Kitchen, Centro De San Jose, and the Detroit Historical Museum were among the many places students visited throughout the week.

“Our goal is for participants to come away with the awareness of the dynamic nature of our urban core and recognize what is happening now to shape its future,” writes DOSO on its website. “As students become involved with ASBD, they will actively discover how they fit into the City of Detroit’s past, present and future.”

Honors Senior Kirk Bennett, who participated in ASBD because of his love for Detroit, said he enjoyed seeing all of the great initiatives and grass root movements from different community members.  

“The individuals and groups that were reforming and giving back to their community made a huge impact on me,” said freshmen journalism student Aleanna Siacon. “It was an honor to listen to their stories and learn from them.”

Freshmen Catherine Vink signed up for ASBD because she wanted to get more involved on campus and in the City of Detroit. When asked about her favorite experience, she immediately said Auntie Na’s House. “She was very giving and welcoming to everyone,” Vink said. “Although she is not very well off, she made homemade meals for all the volunteers. I loved how she cared for the children in the neighborhood and I enjoyed spending time with those children.”

Students who participated got more out of the experience than just volunteer work and a history lesson – they created lasting friendships with students across campus.

“I…believe that there is a certain kind of person who will give up their spring break to sleep on the floor in the basement of a church and volunteer all week,” Bennett added. “I think these people have great hearts and I really enjoyed getting to know them.”

Siacon echoed Bennett’s thoughts.

“I was also able to spend the week with 50 other students who started out as strangers (and) quickly became my friends…we laughed, we cried, and now I am certain that there are 50 other students on this campus that I can go on weekend volunteering trips with or even just grab a cup of coffee with.”

Vink added that ASBD was “the best week of my college experience.”

“I not only was able to volunteer, but I made many friends and will continue to volunteer with these friends,” she added. “This was truly an amazing experience and I am so thankful to have been able to participate in it.”

For more information regarding Alternative Spring Break Detroit, please contact the Dean of Students Office at doso@wayne.edu.