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U. offers alternative ways to spend spring break

While spring break means sunshine and beach resorts for some students, others use the vacation for academic, service and cultural pursuits. Groups of students headed out to both national and international destinations last week, helping local communities or learning more about their chosen academic fields.

University-affiliated organizations, such as the Student Activities Office, Hillel and Brown Disaster Relief, help organize service projects for students around the country, according to Roger Nozaki MAT'89, director of the Swearer Center for Public Service. Students in the Brown Christian Fellowship participated in the Katrina Relief Urban Plunge and Brown Disaster Relief members went to Swan Quarter, N.C., to help repair flood damage from Hurricane Irene. These trips are often linked to students' service activities throughout the semester.

There are also local service programs each break. This year, students helped restore a century-old synagogue in Providence as part of Rhode Island School of Design Alternative Spring Break.

"The Swearer Center encourages students to embed these kinds of projects in long-term relationships and sustained efforts," Nozaki wrote in an email to The Herald. 

Academic departments also initiated trips to allow students to explore their interests with other members of the community. The Geology Departmental Undergraduate Group members traveled to Death Valley, where they explored the natural environment. A group of Brown students travelled to Berlin to participate in a one-week course in music and social justice. And students explored the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi as a part of the Brown-Tougaloo College Partnership.

"This kind of short trip has the dual advantage of expanding students' horizons and creating opportunities for them to get closer to a faculty member," wrote Katherine Bergeron, dean of the College, in an email to The Herald.

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