Alternative to drinking and reading

By Eric Klotz

Not planning the usual cerveza-fest in Cabo San Lucas this spring break? Or perhaps our present global warming debacle has melted your plans to spend spring break on a week-long skiing and drinking binge. If so, you may be interested in an Alternative Alternative Spring Break.

Students’ Union Volunteer Services Manager Sue Wilmot has developed Alternative Alternative Spring Break for U of C students who wish to gain international volunteer experience.

“International volunteer positions help students with jobs, med school and law school,” said Wilmot. “They also immerse students into a foreign culture so that they can gain a fuller understanding of its socio-political framework.”

Wilmot’s program is a pilot program drawn eclectically from a host of other like programs. George Brown College offers a similar program to this one and has laid down the framework for the U of C program.

The destination for the alternative spring breakers is Cuba. Students can expect to soak up the Caribbean sun first in Varadero, Havana and then finally the Cuban city of Trinadad. This trip will not be all fun and sun, the team of 10 volunteers will spend the morning hours working with Cubans.

“The nice thing about this work brigade is that it is balanced,” said Jenna Stephenson of Volunteer Services. Volunteers will spend the mornings labouring with Cubans engaged in activities related to organic agriculture. During the afternoons volunteers will take tours and refine their knowledge of the Cuban experience.

“I think Cuba offers an exceptional learning experience because of its communist system,” explained Wilmot, who is also excited about the opportunity for Cuba to experience Canadians.

“Because of the closed system they rarely get to experience people from other cultures,” she said.

The total cost of the Alternative Alternative Spring Break is $1,582. This includes airfare, meals and lodging. Volunteers will be staying in clean but humble lodgings for single occupants. A deposit of $250 as well as a post-dated cheque for the remainder of the cost is due Wed., Nov. 30, so those interested need to act fast.

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