Shared humanity is a common theme with JMU’s Alternative Break Program. From Masaya, Nicaragua, to the Neutral Zone in New Orleans, ABP helps connect the JMU community to the outside world to work hard and spread the Duke’s spirit of volunteerism and kindness across the globe.
These service-based breaks take place all over the world with longstanding projects in numerous countries overseas, including nations in both Africa and South America, and projects closer to home in Hawaii, Tennessee, and Virginia. Students travel and promote social change with their volunteer work alongside different non-profit organizations and schools. While traveling, JMU’s Alternative Break Program participants see incredible landscapes and natural wonders showcased in some of the photographs displayed, but most important are the extraordinary people they meet and can help along the way.
They are able to interact with a variety of community members in all sorts of situations, wherein both parties learn and benefit from the connections they make during the projects and into the future. One woman in New Orleans braved a busy street to thank two of JMU’s ASB women, Jessica Hoare and Melody Hackett for building a community picnic table for all to enjoy.
This show moves to highlight the often uncomfortable reality of the inherent responsibility we all have to our fellow community members. The photographs within the show invoke feelings of wonder, connection, desolation, volunteerism, and overwhelming beauty found in the simplest of times. When faced with the harsh reality of privilege versus lack of privilege, students begin to understand injustice and inequality which leads to enlightenment and growth. ASB and the participants that go on these trips work to empower local communities and themselves through these experiences.
The joy of spending time with friends, Greek family, and fellow Dukes helping others is seen reflected on the many JMU student’s faces in this show. These photographs of ABP participants and their surroundings elicit a feeling of realization, a sense of movement and upwards growth towards becoming better participants in the larger human sphere as well as within the AB Program.
From a kinship with nature to people, and to far-off cities, all of us are looking for a little bit of human kindness and a feeling of connection and that can be seen echoed in each one of these images.