Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Alternative spring break trips impact those helped, students


Spring break is over and UA students are back to school, bringing with them many unforgettable memories of their week off, and, for some, an experience with helping others.

Beyond Bama is a program with the University’s Center for Service and Leadership and organizes alternative trips for both fall and spring break, during which students help others through various service projects both nationally and abroad.

“These short-term service trips provide an all-inclusive experience for students while providing a learning experience on issues such as literacy, poverty, culture, hunger, homelessness and the environment,” said Cat Cary, a sophomore nursing major and assistant team leader for Beyond Bama. “These trips are fundamentally life-changing for the students and those served.” 

This spring break Beyond Bama sent three groups of students to Guinn, Alabama; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Orlando, Florida. They also sent two international groups to Nicaragua and Peru.

Austin Rife, a freshman majoring in electrical engineering, participated in the Orlando trip. He and his peers worked with United Against Poverty, a community and food outreach center, and Give Kids the World, an amusement park for children with terminal illnesses.

Working with the families at Give Kids the World was an extremely rewarding experience said Rife.

“I was blown away by how happy everyone was, didn’t expect that at all,” he said. “I came out happier than I’ve ever been while I was there. It really gave me perspective which is something I was looking for.”

Rife not only said he was greatly impacted by the trip, but that those he helped were too. “I was definitely making a difference doing everything I could to make life easier for them while they were there… I constantly heard ‘we can’t thank you enough for everything you do.’”

Tess Moriarty, a freshman Spanish major on the pre-health track, said she had a similarly moving experience on her Beyond Bama trip to Nicaragua.

Their group helped fix up a school in the mornings and volunteered at a camp in the afternoon.

“We were really productive and I’m really proud of what we accomplished… Those classrooms are so much nicer now,” Moriarty said.

She said something that stood out to her was a tree whose branches the kids would play and swing on. 

“We have all these monkey bars and playgrounds at our schools, and all these kids have is this one branch on a tree, and they still have so much fun. They’re just so happy with what they have, and it made me realize that I need to be more grateful and appreciative of what I have and also make an effort to give back to those who don’t have as much,” she said. 

Moriarty formed strong bonds with both fellow students on the trip and the kids they were there to serve. 

“I think the relationships we formed with the kids will stay with them. I know they will stay with me. They touched me so much. I hope I touched them in some way,” she said.

Through their Alternative Breaks, Rife and Moriarty had an unforgettable spring break while making a difference through their service.

“My involvement with Beyond Bama has completely changed my life… It is always a very humbling experience, and a solid reality check about what really matters and what our purpose is – to serve and love others. One of the best parts of going on Alternative Breaks is to witness firsthand these changes in your peers. No one goes home the same,” Carey said.

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