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ASB Aims to Please in Ecuador

Mary Unis ’14, Staff Writer 

The Grace J. Palmisano Center for Campus Ministry at Merrimack has created an incredible opportunity for students and staff members alike. The Alternative Spring Break program has grown in popularity over the last few years. “ASB”, as most Merrimack students would refer to it as, offers the opportunity to travel and provide service to those in need. Rooted in the Augustinian heritage, ASB allows students to give back in a variety of ways during their time in college.

This spring, the members of ASB will be traveling to different states around the country to volunteer their time. A handful of students were selected to spend their spring break in Virginia, Kentucky, Washington D.C., New Jersey, Maryland and New York. Each location will have a different agenda, but will all have the same outcome: giving back.

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Merrimack students in front of a statue of Merrimack’s patron saint, St. Augustine of Hippo, outside the Cathedral in Guayaquil, Ecuador last year.

Sophomore Annie McDonnell has dedicated a large portion of her time at Merrimack to service. Annie now works in the Campus Ministry Office and has already participated in two service trips to Washington D.C. and West Virginia. This Spring she will be taking her third road trip in the infamous Merrimack van to a new destination; Kentucky. There she will spend her time living “simply” with limited access to water and much of the norms the Western Culture has become accustomed to. “I think that ASB is always one of the best weeks of the year. It is an enlightening way to spend your spring break, because it is an experience you can’t really have anywhere else.”

These experiences have motivated Annie to travel outside her comfort zone and explore new obstacles that reside beyond the United States. So what’s next for Annie after Kentucky this Spring? Her answer: Ecuador. This summer, eight Merrimack students and two staff members will travel to Rostro de Cristo in Ecuador for a week of service. There, they will be completely immersed in the culture of the communities surrounding Guayaquil, Ecuador. They will follow local volunteers each day, live as they live and learn their stories while providing service to those in needs. Annie is thrilled about this opportunity, stating; “It is a unique opportunity because it is all about solidarity with others as most of us have come from such a privileged background in comparison to the rest of the world.”

Merrimack continues to expand the number of service trips they offer. As these trips grow in popularity, new sites and locations have been added. If you wish to gain more insight on the service trips like ASB, Campus Ministry is located on the third floor of the Sakowich Center and is open to all students.

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