Students prepare for ASB trips around the country

From disaster relief to advocating for domestic abuse victims, Chloe Rossier ’18 has seen a lot in the three years she’s participated in Alternative Spring Break (ASB).

This year, her senior year, marks her fourth and final volunteer trip over spring break. She’s one of three students leading a group of 12 people to Boulder, Colorado, where they’ll be working with Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence. They’ll leave campus on March 8 and will return March 16.  

Group photo from ASB (Rossier '18 front row-center)
Group photo from ASB (Rossier ’18 front-row-center)

“This organization focuses on domestic violence advocacy for youth, teens, and adults of all genders and sexualities,” Rossier said. “Due to the heaviness of the topic and confidentiality of the residents, most of our service will include physical chores and facilities work around their shelter and outreach center. Last year we realized just how impactful it was to the organization and their clients, so we decided to return this spring break.” 

Students make a meal for a women’s homeless shelter in Denver during ASB 2017.
Students make a meal for a women’s homeless shelter in Denver during ASB.

Rossier is just one of the dozens of students participating in Cornell’s ASB program. Participants spend an intensive week performing service at sites across the country, and each trip is planned by student leaders. Groups begin meeting during Block 3 to prepare for their experience and learn more about the social issues related to their trip.

Rossier says it’s fun and challenging to travel and live with a group of people that mostly don’t know each other. The senior says she originally got involved with ASB to meet new people to get involved on campus, but over time she began to deeply care about service work and its impact on those she helped.

“I think every year I have gone on a trip it has been an incredibly eye-opening and humbling experience,” Rossier said. “I have been able to meet and talk to people going through such different personal experiences, had my own stereotypes challenged, gained confidence in working with professional non-profits, and stepped out of my comfort zone. As much as I learned about myself, I learned even more about serious issues such as homelessness, poverty, and domestic violence. There is a lot of work to be done in the world and ASB is the perfect place to help.”

Rossier’s first-year ASB was a disaster relief trip to Biloxi, Mississippi, where she helped clean up after Hurricane Katrina. The following year she found herself on a trip to Washington, D.C., where she worked to provide assistance to the homeless and people living in poverty.

Along with this year’s return trip to Colorado, other Cornell College students are traveling to the following ASB destinations:

  • Conservation – Luray, Virginia
    • Working within Shenandoah National Park
  • Native American Rights – Eagle Butte, South Dakota
    • Working with Okiciyapi Tipi on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation
  • Refugee Reform – Boston, Massachusetts
    • Working with the Refugee Immigration Ministry to provide ESL services

Reflecting on Rossier’s final year of participating in ASB, she’s grateful for everything she’s learned.

“I know that ASB is where my love for volunteering all started, and I definitely will continue to volunteer after I leave Cornell,” she said.

Each participant pays $100 to go on the ASB trips and groups fundraise to cover any remaining costs. That fee covers travel, housing, meals at the site, a T-shirt, journal, and site fees or donations. Student Senate, then, provides more than half of funding needed for each trip. After the groups return, they give a presentation on the Orange Carpet to share their experiences and educate their peers about issues around the country.