Alternative Spring Break program takes students to South Carolina Sea Islands for service work

Daniel Christian •

Alternative Spring Break 2023

Oxford students help build homes with South Carolina Sea Islands Habitat for Humanity.

For this year’s Alternative Spring Break program, 18 Oxford students traveled to the Sea Islands of South Carolina for a week of community service and adventure. Organized through Volunteer Oxford, the trip involved working on three houses with the local Habitat for Humanity branch.

“Students who participate in alternative breaks get to take the lessons they learn in the classroom throughout the year and put them into practice in the community,” said Megan Hulgan, Assistant Director of the Office of Student Involvement & Leadership and staff leader for the trip. “From leadership and team building to considering social determinants of health and historical factors leading to inequality, our alternative breaks provide a unique opportunity to learn outside the classroom.” 

Alternative Spring Break 2023
Throughout the week, students participated in several projects on three properties, including building and staining a privacy fence, nailing together a flooring system, building foundation pillars, and digging out a foundation. Some students also helped paint and stain wheelchair ramps in a nearby community.

In addition to Hulgan, a dedicated group of student leaders helped lead the trip. This year’s leaders were Elma Sohani, Srija Potluri, Virginia Cano, and Lydia King. Each evening, they gathered the group to discuss concepts of servant leadership, social justice in housing and construction, and what they learned that day. One day after work, the group was even able to enjoy some time on the beautiful South Carolina coastline at sunset 

“My favorite part of the trip was the team bonding,” said second-year student leader Cano. “Meeting likeminded people who care about service was amazing. I’m so glad I opened myself up to this new experience. I think what I got most out of the trip was how complicated the issue of housing insecurity was. It felt good to help some, but it was also eye opening to see the ways we couldn’t.”

Reflecting on this year’s program, Hulgan said: “I personally enjoyed the time away from campus to get to know our students better, to see them work hard on a project that required learning new skills, and to learn about how community partners are working to combat housing insecurity. They came away from the trip with an appreciation for both our neighbors working in the construction industry and those who are struggling to find safe, affordable housing.  “

To learn more about Alternative Spring Break programs at Oxford, click here.