Marshall Alt Break Scholarship winner reflects: Guatemala, My Community
Guest post by Asia King, NC State University student and recipient of a 2017 Marshall Alternative Break Scholarship
“If you’ve come here to help me, you’re wasting your time. But if you’ve come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
— Lilla Watson, Australian Aboriginal Elder
I often tell people I have never had a “real spring break.” I have been lucky to participate in four Alternative Service Break experiences, and as participants it sometimes feels as if we receive so much more out of ASB than we give back. However I know going into ASB that I am there with a purpose. I want to share so much with the community. I want to tell them that I see them, I hear them, and I stand beside them. Raising awareness is such an important part of the ASB journey. What we learn during our time in the community is not as important as what we do with it.
My fourth and final spring break (of my undergraduate career) has been one that is difficult to digest as ASB has held such a huge space in my heart throughout my college career. I was able to serve as team leader for North Carolina State University’s Alternative Service Break Program to Guatemala focusing on Women and Gender Issues. In partnership with the Center for Student Leadership, Ethics, and Public Service and the Women’s Center our trip worked to unpack the gender roles and traditional views on gender that impact our lives daily. We worked with organizations such as the Comité Campesino del Altiplano which works to advocate for the rights of indigenous farmers by seeking global, social, economic, political and cultural change as well as ALAS de Mujeres which focuses on providing access to family planning resources as well as changing the stigma around using family planning methods.
When people ask me to explain the reason behind Alternative Service Break, it is a truly difficult for me to put words to the experience. It is hard for me to explain the warmth I feel from the community members who invite us into their homes. Hard for me to explain the power of being a participant in the Women’s March and seeing the Transgender community represented. Hard for me to explain my feelings of frustration, guilt and sadness that regardless of what I do I cannot change the past and how it has affected these individuals. Hard for me to sum up that in a week I can be completely unraveled and put back together by the concept of ASB Magic. Overall ASB is more than a resume builder. More than a week. More than an experience. ASB is a journey, it’s self-reflection, its love, its power, its community and its where I have found myself and the passion within me for social change.
NOTE: Photos courtesy of Asia King. Asia is a senior majoring in business administration at NC State University. She received a 2017 Marshall Alternative Break Scholarship, which provides $250 to support participation in an alternative break program where the student takes a leadership role. The Marshall Scholarship application is open to all students in the NC Campus Compact network who attend the annual CSNAP Student Conference, where scholarship winners are announced. Learn more about the Marshall Alternative Break Scholarship here.