February 19, 2002

Students gear up for break

With just over three weeks of winter quarter left, College students have begun planning for spring break, which is scheduled for March 16 through March 24. Although the week before spring quarter offers a chance to leave Chicago for sunnier locales, some students will opt for less traditional break activities.

Some plan to spend spring break right here in Chicago. "Flights are expensive, and a week is too short to fully enjoy a trip anyway," said Michelle Lyman, a first-year in the College. "So I'll be staying in Chicago with some friends, and we'll use the opportunity to learn more about the city beyond Hyde Park and Michigan Avenue."

Lyman and her friends have plans to explore the North Side and to attend shows by local theater groups like The Second City and Steppenwolf.

But many U of C students are taking the chance to leave Chicago and fly home to spend time with their families.

"Coming from out of state, I don't get to go home very often, so I take every chance I get," said Ken Thornton, a second-year in the College from California.

"I think the whole idea of partying at some tropical paradise is more true at colleges where most of the students are…from the surrounding area. The break is a chance for them to leave their homes and their schools and simply let loose," said Charis Alders, a second-year in the College who will also be going home. "But at colleges like the U of C, where a lot of students are from out of state, a break is a chance to see their families."

As for international students far from home, spring break is a chance to explore other cities inside the United States. Minghao Liao, a first-year in the College from Singapore, will be visiting Washington, D.C. and New York City with a group of other natives of Singapore.

"The break is a chance for us to visit other famous U.S. cities. A week is just nice — any longer and we might be tempted to fly home," she said.

Spring break is also a chance for some University students to do volunteer work. Forty-eight students will be building houses for people in need during Habitat for Humanity's alternative spring break. The program, in its third year, will take students to sites in New Mexico, Maryland, Virginia Beach, and South Carolina this spring.

At the sites, students do anything and everything there is to building houses, such as painting, hanging drywall and siding, putting up sheeting and trusses, and putting shingles on roofs. Only electrical work and plumbing are left to professionals.

The families who will move into the houses also spend time working with the students. "This ends up creating a great sense of community and introduces the volunteers to the families receiving homes," said Oliver Kimball-Melton, a fourth-year in the College and this year's coordinator for the spring break trips.

Past spring break trips have also developed into newfound interests for some. "The trip inspired me to become more active in Habitat, and I now build every Saturday morning and afternoon on Chicago's West Side," said Ira Dounn, a second-year in the College who went to South Dakota with Habitat for Humanity last year. He will be co-leading the trip to South Carolina this spring.