Alternative Spring Break Returns to Piedmont College

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Piedmont students have the opportunity to travel and serve again this year on Alternative Spring Break. 

Each spring break, Dr. Kim Crawford and Rev. Tim Garvin-Leighton take a group of students to volunteer around the United States. Crawford and Garvin-Leighton have led the team to many places over the past four years, including Savannah, Mississippi, Deer Lodge, Tn. and Sebring, Fl. This year, the group will be going to New Orleans. 

“The place that we’re going this time, they’re really trying to help victims still from Hurricane Katrina. It takes a long time for them to get back on their feet and to get their houses in shape so they can return home,” said Dr. Crawford. “It’s crazy to think that people still are not able to return to their homes after the many years since that hurricane, but they’re still trying to help people.”

Garvin-Leighton, or Rev. Tim as he is affectionately known by students, is another faculty member who leads the trips. He’s been going on Alternative Spring Break since he joined the Piedmont community four years ago. 

“One of the reasons I think it’s important for students to go is that it gives them a focused opportunity to work out in the world with regular people and do some kind of service to better the broader community. Whether that’s working with elderly folks, folks that are economically disadvantaged or folks that are disabled for some reason or not, it gives our students the opportunity to have a hands-on experience doing that,” said Garvin-Leighton  

Another reason that students should consider going on Alternative Spring Break is that the experience will count for a Compass Experiential Learning Credit.

“So, the trip does count for a Compass Experiential Learning Credit. I actually will submit the beginning paperwork and all the students have to do when they come back is have a meeting with Mrs. Ramsey to talk about their experience, almost like a reflection,” said Crawford.

Students who are interested in signing up have multiple steps they have to take in order to be able to attend one of these trips. 

“Students can apply online. The website will ask you several questions about your name and background, what year you are in school, your major and things like that,” said Crawford. “In addition to those questions, there’s an essay question. It pertains to the students’ interest in the trip, why they want to go and what they would benefit from their participation. Once they submit that, they should receive a recommendation from a full-time faculty or staff member here.”

Juniors Kobhe Macias and Jena Conley have both gone on Alternative Spring Break in the past. 

“My favorite part was some of the people who are going to be living in the houses came by on one of the days,” said Conley. “I got to know their story and why it meant so much to them, it really hit home. By that point, I feel like all of us were pretty tired, but it gave us a boost of energy to really keep going.”

“It was just a new experience for me. I think if we were to go back and see what we did, I think we’d be pretty proud of ourselves,” said Macias. 

Going on Alternative Spring Break is a great experience for the students as well as chaperones. Crawford and Garvin-Leighton both shared their favorite experiences from these trips. 

“Each experience has been different, but they all allow you to grow a little bit more,” said Crawford. “You come back different than you left. It’s always rewarding for me to take students because you get to see them have those humbling experiences and just appreciation for other people that we sometimes overlook. When we get in our bubbles here at Piedmont, we can get so focused on ourselves and what’s going on in our world that we forget the people around us. So, it’s very rewarding to go on these trips with students, because most of the students that go on the trip come back changed.”

“I’ve had good experiences on all of them and I’ve really enjoyed all of them,” said Garvin-Leighton. “I think that the best thing for me is being with the students and working with them. In Tennessee, we put this new siding on this house for this elderly, disabled couple. Just seeing how happy they were and how much it was going to change their lives.”