Alternative Spring Break

by Rachel Kelley, ’12

It’s week 6 already? What? If your weeks have been anything like mine, they have slipped by a bit too quickly, aided by an overstuffed Google calendar. October is over, midterms are in full swing, the temperature is falling, stress levels are rising… It’s a great time to think about Spring Break.

This Thursday is the deadline to apply for Stanford’s Alternative Spring Break program. I’m writing this with the altogether undisguised hope that you apply. To that end I could write a few pages full of words like “life-changing,” “unforgettable,” and “extraordinary” – but rather than generalities and clichés, let me leave you with a few anecdotes – my own and my friends’ – of what is truly alternative about Alternative Spring Break.

During my Alternative Spring Break trip(s), I…
…slept on the floor of a pediatrician’s house – a two room cinderblock unit in a worker’s camp next to the highway.
…carried water through the desert near the U.S.-Mexico border.
…climbed roofs in San Francisco.
…went from the White House to an advocacy organization to a nonprofit leader’s home in one day.
…weeded onions and picked strawberries.
… met a man who found life again after he discovered he had HIV, lost his vision, lost his house, and was on the streets with nothing but an Apple desktop.
…stayed up until 3am talking about religion and how it affects our lives.
…woke up at 5am to watch the sunrise over the Bay.
…ate lunch at a café run by convicted felons.
…ate cafeteria lunch with elementary schoolers.
…met my best friends.
…learned what I wanted to do with my life.

Too many weeks at Stanford pass by while we’re too busy to notice, but spring break doesn’t have to be one of them. One week of purposeful service-learning can totally transform someone – I’ve seen it happen to my friends and to myself.  “Alternatives” are all about choice. We can poke holes in the Stanford bubble or sit around insulated by it. We can transform or conform. Choose wisely.


After taking two quarters away from Stanford last year, Rachel is a junior-ish senior studying Human Biology. When she’s not singing the praises of ASB, she’s distracting her friends with questions about life, the universe and everything. Send your questions to rkelley7 [at] stanford [dot] edu.

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2 thoughts on “Alternative Spring Break

  1. Sarah Hennessy says:

    Rachel Kelley is amazing and wonderful and awesome, and I couldn’t agree with her more. We started out as ASBabies together as freshmen, and now, four years later, we are ASBDirectors together. ASB has come to define my Stanford career, change my life, and introduce me to some amazing people (ie Rachel Kelley).


  2. SJ says:

    TRUTH! ASB is amazing! Seriously, the week will stick with you throughout Stanford and beyond.

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