Alternative Spring Break
2016 Reflections

     Megan Trigg CKI President 2015-2016

 Alternative Spring Break was one of the best experiences of my college career. Not only was I able to fulfill one of my passions of traveling by going down South but I was also able to do something that I love - community service. This trip was truly the trip of a lifetime with an amazing group of people.

Although being stuck in a van all day traveling may sound horrifying to some, I loved it. After a long week of mid-terms and being up all night, it felt so good to just relax, listen to music, and hang out with people. The group quickly made bonds with each other that lasted the entire trip. Oscar kept thinking that South Cali was short for South Carolina and after correcting him multiple times, we just went with it and called ourselves the "South Cali Squad." Lavaughn brought a plant with him that had just started growing and he didn't want to leave it behind at school. The group named the small flower pot of parsley "Ricardo" and Ricardo became a part of the trip since we brought it everywhere. Although it seemed ridiculous to some, we loved it and thought it was so funny.

"Live to Serve, Love to Serve" is the motto of Circle K and a motto often used in my life. That is how I felt when I signed up for ASB and that is how I still feel. I truly feel like I made a difference in the Gullah Geechee community and I am so thankful for the opportunity that I had to go there and serve them. The majority of the service projects that I have done in the past include homeless shelters and soup kitchens so I really enjoyed tackling a new type of service project and a new experience. I had the opportunity to do archival work that needed to be done in their local library and to assist in clean up for one of the elders of the community.

Queen Quet was kind of like our group leader and she's the Queen of the Gullah Geechee nation - she was quite the character and told us loads of information on the history of the community. She took us to tour old churches, a senior living facility, and a few other locations. She was really quite fascinating and I am so happy I had the chance to meet her since she is such a strong woman and advocate for the Gullah Geechee nation.

Traveling and learning about different areas is a huge passion of mine and this trip definitely fulfilled that passion. I absolutely loved the history we learned and the sites we saw. On the way down, we were able to tour Fredricksburg, Virginia. It was full of history about war and slavery and although that's a sad thought - it was incredibly fascinating. When we got to South Carolina, we were educated on the Gullah Geechee background. I was so fascinated to learn the struggles the community went through and everything they do today. We worked mainly on St.Helena island but our hotel was located in Beaufort.

I will never forget walking along the waterside in Beaufort with my friends, singing, laughing, and taking pictures. After one of our days of work, we drove to Fort Fremont and saw this beautiful old fort just on the edge of the water. Along the water was a beautiful beach where we were able to just relax and walk along the beach after working all day. A lot of us walked it barefoot and picked up seashells along the way. It was incredible. After our last day of work, we were able to take a trip to Savannah, Georgia since it actually wasn't too far from where we were staying. I absolutely loved Savannah, it was so pretty and I loved the experience. We spent some time listening to a street performer playing trumpet along the water side. The most history was in Charleston - I fell in love with this city. We took a bus tour when we first arrived and I absolutely loved it. We saw parts of the city where the movie The Notebook was filmed (which is one of my favorites), where old churches were, and other beautiful monuments of the city. I just loved the way it looked, how nice the people were, and the experience of the city in general. I may have thoughts of returning in the near future.

Overall, I feel so incredibly blessed to have had this opportunity. I feel as though it was a life changing experience for me and it really opened my eyes to new things. I am so thankful and I hope other students are able to have a trip like this - they won't regret it.

     Clara Richardson SGA President 2015-2016

I am grateful for the opportunity that I was given to participate in the alternative spring break trip this year. I had the opportunity to not only engage in community service, but also build friendships and explore new places, customs and cultures while traveling. The trip began with a ride to Virginia, our first pit stop on the way to our final destination. While visiting, we had the opportunity to explore Fredericksburg, a place rich in American history. The drive continued until we reached our destination; Beaufort, South Carolina. This was our home for the next few days as we had the honor to learn about the Gullah Geechee Nation and assist in preserving artifacts and other materials.

Our adventure began with a greeting from Queen Quet, the first elected individual to serve as the head of state for the Gullah Geechee Nation. She shared with us the importance of their efforts in preserving the culture of their ancestors and gave us a tour of buildings that had a direct linkage to the history of the Gullah Geechee people. We were also able to eat a traditional meal of the Gullah Geechee people to immerse ourselves further into their culture. The community service work that we completed was preservation of archives of the Gullah Geechee Nation. This work was very important to the preservation of the culture for future generations. We also worked at the local library assisting the organization of books and other materials. The library was newly built and our efforts helped to ensure that all of their materials were logged into their system in order to provide the materials to the community. We also maintained a lawn of an elder in the community by cleaning up garbage and raking leaves.

After our service efforts were completed, we had ample time to explore a variety of new places. Beaufort was beautiful with a riverside, a variety of stores and culture. We also explored Fort Fremont, a fort that was built in the nineteenth century. The fort was open for exploring and was strategically placed on the beachside. We also explored Savannah, Georgia one night, which was rich in southern culture and delightful adventures. On the trip home, we were able to also explore Charleston, South Carolina. I particularly enjoyed this stop, as it was rich in history and we had the opportunity to take a bus tour around the city in order to fully understand the historical impact of the area. While exploring, we also met a variety of Cobleskill alumni or individuals that had a tie to Cobleskill. It was truly exciting to know that no matter where you explore, the experience of Cobleskill is always present.

Overall, I am very thankful for the opportunity that I was given to experience a variety of cultures and places while also getting to better know all of the individuals that participated in the trip. This experience was truly enriching and is one of the top experiences that I have had while here at Cobleskill. I was able to further grow through the community service efforts, explore new places which provided a greater appreciation for culture and strengthen as an individual. This experience was truly one of a kind and I am thankful to have spent it with individuals that hold the similar values.

     Brian Kaiser Center for Community Engagement

There is no question that this year’s ASB was special-special because of the distance we traveled, the places we saw, the people we met, and the bonds we formed. I was particularly amazed at how well everyone tolerated the long car rides. It seemed like everyone simply carved out some personal space and settled in, which made for a very harmonious, and at time hilarious, environment. The team seemed to click on a variety of levels, reaching a consensus quickly on things like roommates, work assignments, food and entertainment choices-the kind of things that could have been, but were not, a source of contention. That type of flexibility and cohesion is not easy to achieve and you are all to be commended for your contribution.

As regards the itinerary, we were all fortunate to have an opportunity to experience places we would otherwise not likely see. I was glad we took the time to tour Fredericksburg-a place that just oozed history: some good, some truly barbaric, but on the balance I felt it set just the right tone for the rest of the trip. Beaufort turned out to be far more interesting than expected and was the perfect base for our excursions, being so close to our destinations and other necessities. The riverside promenade and shopping district was one of the finest public spaces you will ever encounter and was an unexpected bonus. Of the Gullah Geechee sites we toured, I was most taken by the old church and the ultimate injustice that it was constructed by true craftsmen who, simply because of their color, were not allowed to worship inside or be buried on the property. The nature preserve and Fort Fremont were also unexpected delights, and the walk along the beach was the perfect way to clear our heads and relax. I will also not soon forget the side trip to Savannah, particularly the picture perfect shot from the bridge of the moon rising over the city. Charleston was even more exciting as the tour brought the city to life in a way not otherwise possible. Dinner and clubbing was over the top! If pure joy had a face it was on the four of you who emerged from the club experience of a lifetime having pushed your envelopes to the extreme.

Clearly, the standout individual was Queen Quet who had a rare combination of grace, strength and knowledge. Her commitment to preserving such an amazing, resilient and accomplished culture is outstanding, particularly in light of the short attention span society we have created that so easily forgets the lessons of history. If you haven’t visited her website, I strongly encourage you to do so.

Lastly, there are insights about students that I can only gain by traveling and living with them for a while. Each of you touched and impressed me in different ways with your strengths and weaknesses in full view. The bonds that form in these scenarios are solid, long lasting and true. My hope for you all is that this experience enlightened and strengthened you in ways that will help you confront the challenges you will face as you make your way in the world. Thank you for the opportunity to share this special part of your lives.