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More than 200 BU students to volunteer with ASB

Boston University students registered Saturday morning as non-leadership volunteers for the Community Service Center’s Alternative Spring Break programs in 39 locations, four of which are new volunteer options, ASB members said.

ASB Program Co-Manager Bethany Reynolds said trips were added in Boston, the Bronx, N.Y., Baltimore and Hartford, Conn.

With the 287 students in non-leadership positions within the program as of Monday night, Reynolds said, about 50 spots for non-leadership volunteers remain open as of Monday afternoon.

“Our focus this year was to try and keep things more local in an attempt to show people what’s in their own backyard and hopefully draw more interest in places closer to home,” Reynolds, a College of Arts and Sciences and College of Communication senior, said. “That’s why we added another Bronx trip, why we looked into service in Boston.”

The first ASB trip to fill up was New Orleans, followed by Memphis, Tenn., and San Juan, Puerto Rico, Reynolds later stated in an email. Volunteers will donate an estimated 18,500 hours of service, compared to 17,400 during spring break 2012.

Reynolds said human rights and animals were among the most popular issue areas.

This is the first time registration was organized for the fall. Registration for the 2012 ASB trips, held in January, faced connectivity issues as the site crashed.

“We’re pretty excited about how registration went this year, especially in comparison to last year,” Reynolds said. “It was exciting to do it in the fall to try something new. It was usually in late January, which gives people more time to plan but us less time to plan.”

Unlike January’s registration, volunteers were able to add their names to the wait list at the start of registration Saturday.

“If the trips left weren’t to your interest, then maybe you have a better chance getting a spot on a trip that you would enjoy going on more if you put yourself right on the wait list, although we hope people will be open [to other trips],” said CSC Database and Scholarship Committee Chair Jack Schell, a CAS junior.

Reynolds said that while volunteers have been signing up for the wait list, several students have been open to other trips.

“It sounds like people have been responding pretty positively to when we call them and say, ‘Hey, there are other trips open, would you consider doing this trip?’” she said. “They’ve been pretty positive about taking a look at those trips that weren’t in their original interest area and still have spots open.”

Several students who volunteered for ASB said they were pleased with the updates to the online registration process.

Urs Weber, a CAS junior from Bremen, Germany, said 2011’s registration process was chaotic.

“This year went very smoothly,” he said. “They [ASB] redid their website, so their website looks a lot more professional, it’s a lot easier to navigate this year. They went to great lengths this year to make registration as easy as possible. Long before registration even happened, they posted a page with screenshots showing exactly what to expect.”

Weber, who went to Philadelphia with ASB in 2012, said he looks forward to traveling to Atlanta in 2013 to volunteer in ASB’s refugee education program.

“Even though I’m a biochemistry major, I’ve recently become interested in education, so that really appeals to me,” he said. “Also, being from abroad, I see this as an opportunity to see parts of the U.S. that I haven’t seen before … ASB is a whole lot of fun and a great way to see different parts of the country and do some really great service with some really great people.”

CAS senior Brittany Schwartz, who is volunteering in her fourth ASB as a coordinator for the Reading, Pa., trip, said she looks forward to the trip.

“I love that ASB allows volunteers to completely immerse themselves in service for the week and gain meaningful perspectives on a variety of issue areas,” she said in an email.

Alyssa DeRosa, a CAS sophomore, said she signed up for the ASB program in Memphis, Tenn.

“I’ve never been in that part of the country before, and I went to the info fair with one of the ASB coordinators and she seemed really nice,” she said. “I can’t wait to meet new people and do service with them and hopefully form very strong bonds.”

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