ASE spring domestic lottery opens Feb. 2

The+Appalachian+Online

The Appalachian Online

Liz Flamming

Appalachian State University’s spring break domestic alternative service experience lottery will be held Feb. 2 at 8 p.m. in the Blue Ridge Ballroom of Plemmons Student Union.

This year, Appalachian and the Community Together will provide 18 different domestic programs, ranging from rescuing exotic felines in Center Point, Indiana to serving meals in Bronx, New York. The weeklong programs allow for eight students, two peer leaders and one faculty advisor to spend their spring break volunteering.

Senior biology major Annie Greeley has participated in five Alternative Service Experiences through ACT. The takeaway, she said, has been one of the most rewarding parts of her college experience.

“Initially I went on an ASE program to get out of the country, learn more about Peru and work on my Spanish,” Greeley said. “I also enjoyed doing service, so I thought I should just kill two birds with one stone. I had no idea it was going to have this big of an impact on my whole college career.”

Greeley led a volunteer trip to San Francisco in early January to work with HIV and AIDS patients.

“One of the many things we did was learn about the Syringe Access Program and how they team up with the San Francisco department of Public Health for people to turn in their dirty needles for clean ones,” she said. “Since their program began, the transmission rate of HIV through needles have decreased from 60 percent to about 1 percent, so even though this system is incredibly controversial, it is incredibly effective.”

Sophomore geography major Evan Montpellier has also participated in ASE programs since his freshman year. He spent one fall break working with nature conservation in Nags Head and a spring break rebuilding damaged houses in New Jersey.

This year, Montpellier will co-lead a group of students to Harlan, Kentucky through Explore Appalachia, a program within ASE. There, they will witness mountaintop removal firsthand, restore trees and examine the adverse effects that coal companies have on the community. Montpellier said the environmental aspect was what drew him to Explore Appalachia.

“This is the perfect match for me and I am really looking forward to it,” Montpellier said. “Also getting to know [the people on the trip] and building a relationship with them will be a great experience.”

Montpellier said he believes a program such as ASE is a great way to make a difference in a community.

“If you have the ability to make such an impact on communities, there’s no reason that you shouldn’t take that opportunity,” he said.
To the skeptics, Montpellier advised to just try it.

“If you love it, then you’ve made a huge difference in your life and you can keep perpetuating that difference to other people,” Montpellier said.
Montpellier thinks his peer leadership in Explore Appalachia will be a stepping stone toward someday leading an ASE trip to Puerto Rico to help restore the rainforest.

One of the current peer leaders for the flying domestic trip to Puerto Rico is senior business management major Emily Wolschlag.
Wolschlag said she believes that while an alternative spring break trip may be a short week, when you apply the lessons learned and seen, the trip can have a positive long-term impact.

“ASE gives you an incredible experience that helps with personal growth and leadership, but it also provides you with an incredibly supportive group of people to experience all of that with,” Wolschlag said.

Story: Liz Flamming, Intern A&E Reporter