March 26, 2012

For Spring Break, Students Skip Vacation for Charity

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Though the words “spring break” usually evoke images of students tanning by the beach or partying at a tropical resort, this year Cornell students filled their nine days of freedom with an array of experiences, including volunteering and traveling.

Several students took advantage of their days off to help others, rebuild decrepit  buildings and learn more about other places in the United States.

Greg Morgan ’14 spent a week in New Orleans doing missionary work — involving church construction and interaction with the community — in one of the areas of the city that is still rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina.

He said that this spring break provided him with an opportunity that he would not have had otherwise.

“It was definitely different than my past spring breaks,” he said. “Instead of just relaxing and going to the pool or the beach, I was in the inner city of New Orleans building a new church and rec center.”

Morgan called his trip a “once-in-a-lifetime experience”. He said he recommends that other college students take a similar service trip.

“There are four years of college spring breaks, and I’ll get the chance to do the whole typical spring break,” he said. “I just thought this was really fulfilling and it was great actually being there, helping people, and doing some good work.”

Other students, such as Kendra Murray ’12, traveled outside the U.S. during spring break.

Murray, who is the president of Cornell’s Dairy Science Club, went to Germany with 50 of her fellow club members. The club sponsors a trip for juniors and seniors every other year for an $1,000 fee per person, according to Murray.

Murray said that traveling with a larger group enriched her experience abroad.

“Instead of just going with 10 of my closer friends, I went with 50 people,” she said. “Some had never been on a plane before, and we went abroad and so inexpensively.”

Murray said that during her trip the group visited parts of both western and eastern Germany. In addition to visiting farms, they toured businesses, such as the Volkswagen plant and breweries..

“It was great to show them how agriculture works in a different country and under a different government system,” she said. “It’s rewarding as the president of the organization to watch some kids go over and take a lot out of it.”

Others used this spring break as an opportunity to further their careers. Alexandra Scott ’14, an animal science major, said she went to Florida last week to participate in an externship where she shadowed equine veterinarians.

“[It] was a great way to get hours and gain experience,” she said. “A lot of vet schools like to see that you’ve had different types of animal experience, and equine can be hard to get.”

Scott, who also traveled to Miami after working with the veterinarians for four 11-hour days, said she struck a good balance between working and relaxing during her break.

“I can go out at school so I don’t need to be partying on spring break,” she said. “The fact that I was able to go to Florida and enjoy the sun and the nice weather while doing something that I could add to my resume was the best of both worlds.”

Still, many students, including Jonathan Falcon ’14, took the opportunity to relax in tropical destinations.

Falcon, along with a group of about 40 other Cornellians, spent five days in the Dominican Republic.  He said he would spend his next spring break in a similar manner “in a minute.”

“It was just very relaxing,” he said. “It was good to get my head out of the Cornell work week.”

Falcon said the trip appealed to him because of the opportunity it provided him to travel with friends.

“A bunch of my friends were going, so I figured I’d jump on the bandwagon,” he said. “And I wasn’t going to argue about a week on the beach.”

Original Author: Caroline Simon