For many students, the term “Spring Break” is synonymous with partying, beaches, and having a good time. For one former Western student, it is much more than that. Ryan Thompson is a recent alumnus of Western University who says that as he reflects on some of the best years of his life, Alternative Spring Break was part of his favorite memories.
ASB is a program designed for students to have the opportunity to help make a difference in struggling places. In Thompson’s case, he visited New Orleans in 2017 as a student participant and again in 2018 as a team leader to help the people devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Even though Katrina struck years ago, the effects are still felt by most of those who live in New Orleans. Thompson says he set out to help others but never knew how much the trip would end up helping him.
“Because of ABS I now look at things through a new lens by evaluating other people’s experiences and perspectives and taking into consideration not only my needs but other people’s needs as well.”
Ryan graduated from the Media Information and Technoculture program at Western and says this program greatly influenced his mindset of the trip. He says that “a lot of what my program has taught me is how to effectively tell a story, with the first rule being: tell the truth. By talking to people on the work site and on the street’s of New Orleans, I was better able to come back to my own community and relay first-hand information as to what actually happened in NOLA during Hurricane Katrina.” He says that this mindset allowed him to truly take in his surroundings and not take any moment for granted.
He also says that the trip allowed him to meet people who he will never forget. He and his fellow volunteers continue to look back on their experiences together and relish in the good times.
“I am happy to say that I have continued to keep in touch with many people on the trip that I thought I would never even meet, and am glad to call them close friends”
Thompson is just one of the few lucky students who have their application accepted for ASB. Although spots are limited, that should not discourage students from giving it a try. Below, 10 of the possible locations for ASB are shown.
Application deadlines for this upcoming reading week are now closed, however, there is another ASB in May with different locations available.
Thompson believes that this opportunity can change a students university experience and get them out of the “Western Bubble.” He says ASB allowed him to design his own definition of what a university experience should be.