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ASBuffalo + ASBadlands = Awesome Spring Break

Posted by on Sunday, March 28, 2010 in Alternative Spring Break, College Life, Diversity, General Information, Spring Break.

When you think of spring break, you probably think of tanning on the beach in Cancun or skiing in Colorado. At least that is what I always thought, and did, until this year. This year I found Alternative Spring Break. ASB is a program that provides service oriented spring break programs to Vanderbilt students in over 35 countries, mostly in the Unites States, but a few abroad also. When you sign up for ASB you rank all of the sites, however in the end you are placed on a site that the committee feels is the best fit for you. Staying true to my past spring break experiences, I ranked the Bahamas, Florida, and similar sites at the top of my list so I was very surprised on the day of the reveal that I was placed in South Dakota…

At the time I knew nothing about South Dakota, I didn’t even know who lived in South Dakota or what the weather was like, so I was very surprised to learn that I was going to be living on an Indian Reservation in the snow for a week. I was also surprised to learn that I would be one of 7 drivers making the 24-hour long trek from Nashville, TN to Kyle, SD in 2 minivans. I was kind of hesitant going in… Did I mention that no one knew anyone else going on the trip? ASB does a very good job of putting 12 random people together for the week.

Despite all of my hesitations, my week spent in South Dakota was one of the best spring breaks I have ever been on! I could go on and on about all of the bonding moments and inside jokes that were made that week… but I’ll save you a few hours of reading and stick to the highpoints. Please, if you have never seen them before, Google the Badlands in South Dakota. Now! Do it! I’m not continuing till you do it…

Ok you saw them? Good! Aren’t they gorgeous? When we were driving they just popped out of nowhere and were a great welcome to the reservation. Throughout the week we made many visits back to the snow covered badlands, just to stare and listen to the absolutely silence they provide.

Our service project was to work at the Porcupine School helping out in the kindergarten through 4th grade classrooms. Unfortunately, due to a snowstorm part way through the week, we were only able to spend 2 days with the kids, but even after just 5 minutes with them, I was in love! I was in the kindergarten classroom with my new friend Andrew and even after being tackled to the ground on the playground by 7 little monsters, I didn’t want to leave them. However, since we weren’t able to spend much time at the school we spent a lot of our time with our guide, Joe, learning about the Lakota Indian culture and visiting sites such as Wounded Knee and the Crazy Horse Memorial, and of course searching for as many buffalo as we could find.

I absolutely loved my Alternative Spring Break experience, and whatever school you end up at (even though I hope its Vandy!), please find one of these experiences offered at your school and take advantage of it. I learned so much about myself, other students at my school, and the Lakota people. Not only did I have so much fun, but I also gained a new appreciation for everything that Vanderbilt has to offer!

If you want to check out the ASB program and all of the sites, click here:

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