Alternative Break Connections (ABC) is a student-led organization sponsored by Towson’s Student Government Association. This organization leads community service projects during the university’s winter, spring, and summer breaks. Selected participants have traveled to various cities around the United States including New York, Atlanta, and Miami, giving back to communities in need.
This Spring Break, ABC took serving others to another level! In another country! Three dedicated student trip advisors, Sylvia Otieno, Shannan Parker, and Gonto Robinson offered 18 passionate participants the opportunity to travel abroad to the beautiful country of Bahamas! The students would embark upon a week long service trip immersing themselves in the Bahamian culture and community. There, each participant learned how to live on a day-to-day basis below the poverty level, reflecting on their experiences as a global citizen as well as the impact their services have on larger communities. With a budget of $6 a day for food, restricted WiFi availability, and a small shared home for the entire group, the students truly learned the meaning of sacrifice.
Under the supervision of Towson faculty, Lisa Parlade and Raeshan Davis, students were blessed with mentors and advisors to lead discussions on the impacts their services have made during their time in Nassau, Bahamas. Born and raised in the Bahamas herself, Raeshan Davis opened both her heart and family to the 17 other participants, giving them the “eyes and ears” of the Bahamian culture. Davis expresses her pride in giving back to the place she calls home. Her vulnerability and transparency about her own life both growing up in the Bahamas and moving to “The States,” encouraged the remaining students to show another side of themselves as well.
Sophomore, Elssa Kenfack asserts that this trip has truly been an inspirational, passionate, and fun experience. She says that this group of individuals have made her laugh and cry more than she has in years. The Bahamas created an escape from life itself, and taught her about herself, culture, and the true nature of service. While working with The Red Cross, The Great Commission, schools, and hospitals, the students were able to impact the Bahamian community in ways they did not expect. The gratitude and appreciation from each and every organization has inspired the participants to further their services back here in America.
Danielle Gibbs, an Occupational Therapy major, says that she has seen life from a different perspective and she wishes others are granted the same opportunity she was blessed to receive. Her favorite service activity was interacting with the elderly in their nursing home. This act of kindness has encouraged her to continue pursuing her degree in order to bring quality service to those of old age.
Trip leader, Shannan Parker is reminded of a quote by Robert Ingersoll which epitomizes her encounters abroad. He simply states “We rise by lifting others.” Starting off the year with a vision board, Parker emphasized her hopes of traveling abroad on a mission trip. From planning a complete itinerary for the trip to seeing the complete fruition of her plans, Shannan is absolutely grateful for this opportunity, and her ability to advise such an amazing group of students who truly wanted to give back, as much as she does. This testament of her own has aspired her to continue going after what she desires, regardless of the obstacles placed in her way.
Mother Teresa once said, “At the end of life, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.’” Tigers, make it a duty of your own to give back to the community in some way, shape, or form. You don’t have to travel abroad to give back; service can start exactly where you are, here in the Towson community. Take a moment of your leisure time to impact, inspire, and ignite a culture of service in our very own country, the place you call home.