One of the reasons I chose to go to grad school at the University of Michigan School of Information (UMSI) was their obvious commitment to service. One of the primary examples of that commitment is Alternative Spring Break (ASB). ASB is an opportunity for UMSI (holy alphabet soup Batman) students to utilize the skills they are learning in the program on a project for a non-profit or public sector organization. Here’s how UMSI puts it:
The University of Michigan School of Information (UMSI) annually hosts an Alternative Spring Break program that matches our very capable students with non-profit, cultural, government, and educational institutions in Chicago, Detroit, New York, and Washington, D.C. The students that participate are both Master of Science in Information candidates and Bachelor of Science/Arts in Informatics candidates. The students spend a week working on professional projects for the benefit of your organization.
The 2013 ASB program will take place from Monday, March 4 through Friday, March 8, 2013. As part of the program, students start work on Monday morning and work approximately 35 to 40 hours until Friday afternoon.
As students, we had to apply for the program and choose five projects that we felt would best utilize our abilities while also providing us with an enriching experience.
I was lucky enough to get matched with my top choice. I’ll get to spend the week of Spring Break working at the Science, Industry and Business (SIBL) branch of New York Public Library (I’ll post pictures of me in front of the lions even though this branch is a few blocks away!). I was ecstatic to get the news that I had been matched 1) to NYPL, 2) to a reference style project, and 3) to New York! Of all the locations available for ASB, New York City was the only one I had not visited previously. Here is a link to the full description of project.
So, the next part will be a fundraiser to pay for the expenses. Be on the lookout soon for a Crowdrise campaign (or, if you are local, Penny Wars). Students are being asked to raise $500 each to cover the cost of the program including our transportation and lodging. If we meet our goal, then our only expenses will be related to meals, local transportation like cabs and buses, and souvenirs. I can’t wait to go on my great adventure to the Big Apple! I’ll keep you all posted on ways you can help.