Alternative spring break for greek students brings opportunity

Alayna Flor

For Spring Break, 10 greek community students are ditching the beaches and tans to serve the less fortunate.

These students, all selected in an interview process, are going on the alternative spring break trip offered by the Office of Greek Affairs.

“We will be working directly with people who use the services at Horizon House in Indianapolis,” said Emily Hill, sophomore in elementary education. “It’s the only day center in Indianapolis and it serves over 1,500 people a day.”

The students, along with Jon Turk, their adviser and graduate assistant in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, have been discussing homelessness and the Horizon House for the past two months.

“Our adviser … has been having us journal during our meetings so we can get our thoughts out there prior to the trip, talking about possible experiences we may have; also, write down our feelings we might have during the trip,” said Ashley Olberding, junior in apparel, merchandising and design.

Turk was asked in September to create this trip offered to greek students. Since the 10 students were chosen, they have learned a great deal about the cultural differences between Ames and Indianapolis.

“Many of the students are from Iowa and have traveled to other states, but this will be much more different than anything most of them have experienced,” Turk said. “It has a much larger and more demographic population and it’s going to be a great learning experience for these students.”

The students have also had the chance to meet ISU greek students in other houses.

“We mesh together well, and for the most part, we all seem pretty easy-going,” Hill said.

Olberding said the collaboration between houses has expanded her network.

“I’m excited to be with members from other Greek houses because we get so used to the people in our house that we live with,” Olberding said. “Now we get to be with members from both fraternities and sororities and get to know them as another member in the Greek community, not just as a member of a certain house.”

“While working with the Horizon House, we will be serving meals as well as working in their clothing room that is full of clothing necessities, all donated,” Turk said. “They also have career services and legal counselors, so the students and I may help there as well.

“On Wednesday, we will do a drive around with the employees of the Horizon House to reach out to homeless people in Indianapolis that may not know about their services and spread awareness, or to check up on those that do not necessarily come to the house but still may need some help.”

After reaching out to others at Horizon House during the day, the students will go to various fraternity and sorority headquarters for dinner and talk about their experiences.

“On Monday, we get to have dinner at Delta Tau Delta fraternity headquarters and representatives from Sigma Kappa sorority and Alpha Chi Omega sorority will be there,” Olberding said. “On Wednesday night we get to have dinner at Delta Upsilon headquarters and there will be other representatives that night, too.”

Philanthropy and hands-on experience are key elements in the ISU greek community.

“We are using this trip as a tool to help the students see the people they are affecting directly,” Turk said. “It won’t just be giving money to an organization. It’s allowing the students to see a completely different side of philanthropy they are used to.”

Being able to actually see the effect their efforts have on a community is what stands out for Hill.

“Interacting directly with the people benefiting from our service is a completely different experience,” Hill said. “People respond so positively when you share even just a little bit of compassion and being able to help them and see their appreciation is a really wonderful opportunity.”

During the trip, the students will update a blog everyday with photos, events and stories.

“I think it is going to be a great experience and we will gain a lot of knowledge that we can bring back to our chapters and to the greek community,” Olberding said.

The group leaves Sunday morning and will return March 18.

To follow their day-to-day experience during spring break, go here.