Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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A break to build

Helen Kuo didn’t shower over Spring Break. Most nights she ate roadkill for dinner, and she spent the week with people who don’t believe in government.

And now she’s sad it’s over.

The Weinberg senior participated in the Buffalo Field Campaign in West Yellowstone, Mont., as part of Alternative Spring Break. ASB sends Northwestern students to service sites across the country during Winter and Spring breaks.

ASB attracted a record 240 participants this Spring and sent students to 18 sites all over the country, said co-Programming Director Katie Stearns.

At the Buffalo Field Campaign, participants helped patrol the area to protect the last herd of free-roaming buffalo, said Kuo, a site leader for the trip.

“It was such a culture clash at first,” Kuo said. “The people we dealt with were anti-government, anti-institution and anti-society.”

Matt Harsh, the other site leader for the West Yellowstone trip, said he felt hostility when he first arrived at the Montana site.

“They thought we were selling out,” said Harsh, a McCormick senior. “They thought we should be working in the field. While we are both working toward the same goal, it is so different.”

Kuo said that by the end of the trip, the groups were able to put aside their differences and get along.

“We didn’t understand them and they didn’t understand us at first,” she said. “We proved ourselves in the end. We ended up establishing a pretty good relationship with the people.”

Weinberg sophomore Genevieve Maricle, who also went to West Yellowstone, said she learned a lot about activism from the trip.

“I never realized the difference between direct action and political action,” Maricle said. “I care about activism and about changing things, but I have such different tactics than these people. I learned where I fit in the spectrum.”

While students on the Buffalo Field Campaign trip focused more on politics, other trips dealt with social issues.

Lisa Sandstrom went to the Boston Living Center, a hospice for HIV and AIDS patients in Massachusetts. Sandstrom said the trip changed her ideas about HIV.

“People sometimes put HIV on the back burner, but it is an issue that affects so many people,” said Sandstrom, a Weinberg freshman.

She said although she met people who were taking more than 40 pills a day, she was amazed by their attitudes.

“Given the name of the center itself, I expected to encounter really sick people,” Sandstrom said. “But these were the most enthusiastic, optimistic people. They just are concentrated on living their lives to the fullest.”

Sandstrom said that throughout her trip, she met several people who affected her, particularly a University of Michigan graduate named Daniel. Daniel, who resides at the center, contracted HIV during his junior year of high school.

“He was an inspiration, and I think his story just hit close to home for all of us,” Sandstrom said.

Kathy Chan, who also volunteered at the Boston Living Center, said she was particularly inspired by Jim Green. Green, who postponed his retirement one week to work with NU students, helped the students organize their volunteer efforts.

“He really gave me a lot of perspective,” said Chan, a Weinberg junior. “He taught me to live every day as it comes to you.”

Chan said she and her other group members grew to enjoy doing household chores.

“I had a blast scrubbing floors and cooking,” Chan said. “We got to interact with members of the kitchen staff and learn about the personal side of living with HIV.”

Shannon Scrofano, who went to the Crotched Mountain Foundation in Greenfield, N.H., called her trip an “authentic human experience.”

The center, a prep school for disabled people aged 6 to 22, works to promote independence among participants.

“I learned about all the compassion these people have,” said Scrofano, a site leader for the trip and a Speech junior. “I saw how life can be so simple and fulfilling at the same time.”

Speech senior Frank Lawson, who went with ASB to Franklin, Va., said the work he accomplished during his trip was rewarding.

Through the United Methodist Committee on Relief, Lawson and other participants helped paint and renovate about 300 houses destroyed by Hurricane Floyd last year.

“We took before and after pictures of one of the houses, and it was gratifying to see the end product,” said Lawson.

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
A break to build