UW Dream Project

April 23, 2013

Getting Involved: Alternative Spring Break

Getting Involved is a new series for current Dream Project mentors who are looking for new ways to get involved with education, leadership, and mentoring during their undergrad at UW. Today, we’re featuring a post by Clare Morrison, former high school lead at Foster High School and team leader for Alternative Spring Break, Toppenish.

Instead of spending my spring break sleeping and hanging out at home, I traveled to the small town of Toppenish, Washington on the Pipeline Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trip. My freshman year, I participated in the ASB trip to Omak, and was greatly impacted by the students and teachers I met there. From this experience, I was excited to come back as a team leader and share my enthusiasm for the program with others. In the Alternative Spring Break program, UW students travel to rural or tribal towns in Washington state to facilitate a literacy arts project. We work with students to brainstorm ideas, write a story, and finally, to make a book. We also publish student stories from all over the state in a magazine when we return. Together with my team of 4 UW students (including 2 of our own DP mentors, Keting Cen and Vincent Pham), I spent the week working in Mr. Rodriguez’s 7th and 8th grade classroom at the E.A.G.L.E. Alternative School.

This year, Pipeline also received a grant from the College Success Foundation to do outreach for the College Bound Scholarship. For this reason, we were able to give a presentation to our students on financial aid and our personal experiences in college. I feel lucky to have the opportunity to hear about our students’ hopes and dreams for themselves, and to share our own stories. Many had little idea about financial aid and what college is like, and after our presentation, many of the students approached us with questions. At the end of the week, all of the students wrote us good-bye cards. One 7th grade student wrote that before our presentation, she didn’t want to go to college, but after we spoke, she realized that a higher education was possible for her.

For me, most of all, ASB is about building connections and gaining awareness of the of new perspective. When I travelled to Omak on my first ASB trip, I had little idea of what life was like for students in other parts of the state. Our students told us about hunting and fishing trips, showed us a dance they were learning an upcoming pow-wow, and taught us a few words in Salish. ASB has given me an appreciation of the incredible diversity our state has to offer. I’ve met so many amazing people during my spring break trips, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to experience a week in these students’ lives.

If you’re interested in getting involved, feel free to contact me with any questions at clare.morrison@gmail.com! Applications for next year will be available at http://expd.washington.edu/pipeline/asb/literacy-arts-asb.html by January 2014.