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Public Service Spring Break Planned

By Jean K. Lee

While many await spring break for relaxation and fun in the sun, a group of MIT students eagerly prepare for their alternative spring break - a community service trip to Washington, D.C.

Volunteers will teach inner-city elementary and junior high school students, working with Teach for America - a non-profit national service organization that assists prospective teachers

MIT students will have the chance to have fun and explore the capital city during the evenings and the last day of the trip.

"The alternative spring break enables students to volunteer and have fun at the same time. It provides an opportunity for people to do something meaningful," said Anthony J. Ives '96, who initiated the project last October.

So far, approximately 40 students have expressed interest in the trip, Ives said. He has planned an organizational meeting this week to discuss the details of the trip and prepare lessons and experiments that will be taught to the students.

Students serve as role models

"We get so caught up with school work here and many times we take our MIT education for granted," Ives said. "We can serve as good role models for the younger students. It's a gift we should use and share much more."

Students interested in receiving academic credit for this volunteer work can gain four to six units of Pass/Fail credit.

The requirements for receiving credit would include prior reading about urban youth, inner city economics, and public education, writing a short paper, and maintaining a journal throughout the experience, said Tobie F. Weiner, administrative assistant in the political science department.

"The reading packets are designed to place the experience of the volunteer work within a broader spectrum of politics and policy," Weiner said. "The readings could make their teaching experience a much better one."

Students will only need to cover the cost of food during their stay. MIT alumni and Teach for America teachers will host the students, and the PSC will pay for transportation.

"This trip is truly a student-initiated volunteer project. I see the PSC as a broker and a mentor in making these programs a reality," said Emily B. Sandberg, program director of the PSC.

"I'm thrilled with the phenomenal response from the students," Sandberg said. "I definitely see this project blossoming in the future."

According to Ives, the idea of this project occurred to him after his participation in Leadershape last May. Leadershape was originally a national pledge program for Alpha Tau Omega that developed into a program for college students committed to developing leadership skills and a vision' for the community or an organization.

"I think this trip will open our eyes and develop our skills in working and communicating with people outside the classroom," Ives said. "I'm hoping that this project will become a perpetual, ongoing-student activity in the years to come."