The following post, written by Josh Fishman, was originally published on the Michigan State University Hillel’s blog about MSU’s recent City Year / Hillel Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trip in Los Angeles.
Wow. After going into the week with curbed expectations, having never participated in an Alternative Break trip as a staff member or a student, I cannot begin to explain what an eye-opening experience our trip to L.A. was. The week was filled with motivational speakers, countless group discussions (probably too many if you were to ask a student), hours of service work in the scorching L.A. sun, and of course, endless amounts of fun.
Our first speaker, Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, talked about the trip, and asked whether students thought it was a service trip or a learning trip. A majority of students were quick to shout that it was strictly a service trip, but I’m sure if you asked those same students today, their answers would be different.
What is the goal of 4 days of service work in a new environment? Is the goal to improve the schools and leave a lasting impression on the students we’ve helped? Are we doing more harm then help in becoming role models for young kids and then disappearing on a whim? Is it more beneficial to donate the trips cost to LA schools, which would allow them to afford many more tangible supplies than we created in a weeks worth of time?