Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Alternative Spring Break- A Week of Service, Creativity and Finding Faith

ASB participants take an exciting group photo

    Every year approximately 1.5 million students across the United States and territories look forward to Spring Break, a week-long break from school to engage and participate in whatever they desire. While some students boarded a plane or boat to visit family and vacation, catch up on some much-needed R&R, or work on outstanding class projects and assignments; students at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) on the Orville E. Kean campus decided to spend their week engaging in the 6th annual Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program. 


    The UVI ASB program is a week-long theme-based immersive program which incorporates experiential learning, community engagement, personal, professional and or leadership development. Recognizing the challenges associated with COVID19, this year the Office of Student Affairs, based on students' interests, offered two unique and distinct programs aimed at fostering holistic health and wellness that fit right into the overarching theme to serve, learn and grow. “Paws for a Cause”was a choice for some while others spent their week “Finding Faith.”  

Finding Faith

     Members of Finding Faith, an all-female group, explored what it means to believe in God while learning and educating themselves on the Christian faith. Throughout the week, members discussed a number of topics that currently affect young people or college students as a whole. Topics related to alcohol, sex, drugs, dating, music, marriage, and family. As they discussed these topics, they then used the bible as the source/answer to their lingering questions or concerns related to the topic at hand.
Finding Faith group displays artwork

    In addition to reading and studying the bible, the Finding Faith team went on a scavenger hunt while the campus, enjoyed a picnic on the beach and stretched their legs and rock climbed. They also played bingo and hosted a fashion show with the surrounding theme of modesty and discussed considerations for dressing appropriately. In addition, the Finding Faith crew also went out into the local community to feed the homeless, which is one of the many attributes of being a Christian. “Proverbs 22:9 states, the generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor,” said student lead Ishara Jendayi. “So, in learning about faith we wanted to put into action what we were learning so we thought that feeding the homeless would be one of the best ways to do so.”
Finding Faith group enjoy John Brewers Bay Beach

    “It was honestly a great experience, because we were able to see there are so many people who are a lot less fortunate and I believe this activity taught us to be grateful for what we have and to sympathize with those in need,” added Jendayi. During the week of Finding Faith, Jendayi engaged in a form of “evangelism,” the act of preaching and sharing the Gospel and encouraged UVI student Liliana Familia to join their group for the week. “Before ASB I was doing some thinking and I asked myself, what exactly am I doing,” said Familia. “When I saw the ASB flyer I contemplated whether I should participate, but I didn’t really give it much thought. Then I was approached by Ishara and I am so thankful that she came up to me when she did. I have been on a journey to read my bible and pray more, Finding Faith really motivated me to keep on doing that.”
Finding Faith group, preparing meals for homeless

A major topic amongst generation-z and millennials is identity. To close out the Finding Faith journey, members discussed what makes them unique and who they identify as while painting pieces that expressed who they identified as in Christ.
Finding Faith group heading down to John Brewers Beach

“One of my favorite activities from Finding Faith was when we painted a canvas based on how we thought God views us, in other words our identity,” said Deanna Hunt. “I choose the quote, I am a masterpiece of God’s creation, because it reminds me that God made each of us uniquely,” added Hunt. “Although we may go through many ups and downs, we have these experiences to help us grow and develop into what God has planned for us. He will always be the Pilot in our lives, we just have to reach out to him in order to be directed.” Jendayi added, “what we learned in our discussion with identity, is no matter what we choose to identify as, whether that may be a proud St. Thomian, a UVI alumna, a Scorpio, or an athlete, the Finding Faith group came to the agreement that we can all identify ourselves as a child of God. So, no matter what a person may choose to identify as or whatever the world may say we should identify as, at the end of it all we will always be identified as a child of Christ.”
Finding Faith group having a picnic on the beach

After testifying before the ASB congregation, the Finding Faith group took everyone to church and raised the roof with their rendition of the viral “Faith Talk” rap by lead pastor of Transformation Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma Michael Todd. In addition to rapping, Liliana and Ricklia harmonized a beautiful symphony of praise to God to officially close out their Finding Faith journey. “It was a pleasure to be part of the Finding Faith ASB program,” said Rickila Hanley. “I was able to connect with lovely ladies who are proud of their faith journey. The activities were creative, the discussions were lively, and the fellowship was amazing.”
Finding Faith group giving our food and water to homeless

Before officially signing off from this year’s Alternative Spring Break, Verna Rivers, dean of Student Affairs on the Orville E. Kean Campus rendered congratulatory and closing remarks and presented the students with participation certificates. “I am more and more amazed about the diversity of these programs that still meet ASB’s goal to serve, learn, and grown,” said Rivers. “ASB could not have been possible without your participation, so I would like to congratulate and thank you all for embracing these principals and for giving up your traditional spring break to engage in ASB,” added Rivers. “So, I am truly hopeful that these experiences embodied UVI’s values and our expectation that you served, you learned, and you grew.” The Alternative Spring Break program is an annual program offered by the Office of Students of Affairs in alignment with its mission to provide a campus environment engaging student’s holistic human development through academic enrichment health and wellness, social, cultural recreational programs and services.