Rather than going to exotic places like Panama Beach, Florida, or California for spring break, some University of Memphis students have decided to volunteer their time through the Alternative Break Experience (ABE).

ABE is an initiative where students travel to another state for six days and help in poor communities. Students have a variety of categories they can volunteer for, such as urban education, domestic violence, community development and urban poverty.

UofM student and returning ABE volunteer Kiara Amador provided more details about some of the activities students partake in on the trips.

“We are gone from March 8 to 13, and we do community service that entire time,” Amador said. “The events are organized by students, a trip leader and a graduate assistant, with a wide range of different activities.”

Amador said the destinations would be unveiled at this year’s reveal party Nov. 23.

 “The reveal party is not really for people who are going because everybody that applies gets picked to go,” Amador said.

Amador also spoke about her previous experiences with ABE, in particular, last year’s trip to Chicago. Amador said helping impoverished people in struggling communities is very empowering.

“People were crying during last year’s trip. I was crying,” Amador said. “Last year’s trip was especially cool as it touched on women’s issues, and all the volunteers who traveled to Chicago were women.”

Some students have caught wind of ABE, with some eager to take on the opportunity to aid other communities beyond Memphis. Freshman Miles Turner discussed applying for ABE and said it was a great way to travel and see other places outside of Tennessee.

“For me, I have never been outside of Tennessee, so to have the chance to go out and see other cities like Detroit or Atlanta would be amazing,” Turner said. “It would mean even more to me to be able to go to these areas and help people in the community, especially people struggling to find resources.”

Even graduate students are considering signing up for ABE. Graduate student Nathan Perry has shown interest in doing community development service events and said he was planning on applying if he still had the chance to.

“Community development, specifically with children and after school recreation centers and events is my thing,” Perry said. “I want to be a part of something bigger than just projects in Memphis. For me, it’s about the people that aren’t fortunate enough to have the resources or knowledge on where to find them.”

The due date for applications has passed, but students can still apply for next year’s ABE. Domestic trips will cost students $75, with different payment options available.

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