Wearing brightly colored neon orange t-shirts; adding a flair of pop and color to the theatrical setting of the UVI little theater, student participants of the 4th annual Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program closed off a week of educational, exhilarating, and fun filled activities at a presentation and award ceremony on Friday, March 13, 2020.
The one-week program, slated with several activities and events centered around the “Learn, Serve, ” theme, allowed students to learn something they may have never tried before, to serve others that were in need, and grow from the experience ASB offered.
This year, the Division of Student Affairs offered four unique programs for students to participate in while allowing them to live on campus for one week, giving them the opportunity to indulge in every event or activity they so desired. The four programs were titled: Culture Shock; Lights, Camera, Action; VI, and Helping Hands
“Modeling the headpieces on stage was intimidating but it was a way to show the accomplishment of the headpieces and the growth of my confidence,” said Todman. “ the program was truly enlightening, and I highly recommend that every college student gives the program a chance in the future.”
|(Left to Right) Clinisha Todman, Serita Somersalle, and Quiannah Potter group photos while wearing carnival hats|
|Nicholas Durgadeen shares storytelling experience|
“During my session at storytelling I was taught to appreciate every little thing that you have because it might end up being ALL that you have,” said .
|Tekettay Ludvig acts out story|
|Torhera Durand presents story|
VI got their hands dirty, in a positive way of course by building gardens for persons and communities still recovering from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Students in VI worked with the St. Thomas Recovery Team (STRT), a non-profit organization that was established after the hurricanes whose focus is to rebuild homes and community gardens. Imani Daniel and Tyrone Webster of STRT exposed students to gardening and building one’s own community garden. The gardening project took place on an open field in Bordeaux next to a playground. The three-day project involved lifting lumber, clearing the land, building garden boxes, planting seeds and lawn beautification. Student participants described their overall experience of the VI project.
Rabsatt worked with the STRT prior to joining the VI group. “Having all these people come out and help us create a garden in a place where we can give to sustain ourselves as an island and be more independent was a really nice experience and being able to give back to the community was nice as well,” said Rabsatt.
Lights, Camera, Action
|Amos Francis operates stage lights|
Russell who learned how to use stage lights said, “The lights are especially bright, the lights are especially hot, but lights are what can make any story or presentation spectacular.”
In addition to the daily sessions each program offered, social activities were scheduled every night as well. On Tuesday, the campus shuttle ventured a little quite beyond the hills and roads that lead to the UVI Library, the Administration Building and the CA Building and rode all the way to the country side of the island to Caribbean Cinemas for a movie night. The new thriller Invisible Man was the choice for some while a few others watched the Bad Boys II.
“Invisible man had me at the edge of my seat, questioning what’s going to happened next,” said Lettsome. “The suspense was great.”
“Bad boys included unexpected situations that were eye opening,” said Deanna Jeffers.
On Thursday, ASB, set sail on the Castaway Girl boat excursions and had a boat party while enjoying
good food and music. During the excursion, students got the chance to snorkel and visit Buck Island and Water Island. “The boat ride was such an awesome experience,” said Amos Francis. “Being able to explore the beautiful Caribbean ocean and islands helped to relieve some of the stress college brings along.”
|Students enjoy their time on boat excusion|
ASB could not close off the week without offering some kind of community service and that is just what the “Helping Hands” group did. Waking up early morning with smiles on their faces and trash bags in hand, Helping Hands visited each residence hall asking students if they had any clothing that they would be willing to donate. They successfully collected six large garbage bags of clothing and donated them to the Salvation Army and Humane Society.
In light of the COVID-19 virus, Helping Hands created homemade hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes with on hand ingredients that include rubbing alcohol, aloe , vinegar, peroxide and scented oils with assistance from Dahlia Stridiron-Felix, Mary Meyers, Jenifer Palmer-Crawford and the rest of the Students Affairs team. These finished products were donated to the UVI cafeteria.
|Students make homemade hand sanitizers|
|Dean of Students Verna Rivers|
“I felt like this program afforded you the opportunity to reflect, to feel yourself, for you to experience something that you were passionate about. It helped you to develop and hone your skills,” said Dean Rivers. Students quickly agreed with her statement with a round of applauses and cheers.
She added, “I want ASB to continue to grow, to be a student lead and student empowered organization.”
She then called on and presented her with a gift bag and thanked her for all her hard
work. served as the program coordinator for the Alternative Spring Break and played a major role in making the event a huge success. “ASB probably would not have happened if it wasn’t for ,” said Dean Rivers.
|Deans Rivers hands Nyalia Callwood gift bag|
“This program was insane,” said . The mix of social, service and creative activities made for an transformative experience. So many students joined and had fun,” added . “I’m happy I was able to give them a chance to get closer to their passions and community. Next year will definitely be greater. I anticipate more students, better programs and some travel opportunities during Spring break and other breaks.”
“I enjoyed the overall experience. It helped to open my eyes to the things we have in our community such as the making of dolls and how good storytelling with the correct amount of dramatic flair and energy can impact people, said Paul. “I learned how to use many different types of equipment and how to operate different kinds of cameras.”
The Alternative Spring Break program created a new perspective for students at the University of the Virgin Islands. This program allowed students to temporarily forget about the worries and stress of college and their daily lives and allowed them to unravel their inner potential and abilities through creating, working, servicing, and expression whether it is through culture, community service, social activities or content creation. Although, UVI will now transition to online classes for the remainder of the Spring semester ASB has allowed students to re-energize and re-focus because it not was not only about having fun, students were able to “serve, learn, and most importantly grow.”