By Kyrah Simon, Staff Reporter
On March 12, after months of preparation, Howard University’s Alternative Spring Break officially announced the suspension of the 22 city service initiative a mere two days prior to departure.
“After careful consideration of the risks associated with the Coronavirus in the Washington metropolitan area and some Howard University Alternative Spring Break (HUASB) service sites, the decision was made to suspend all travel and programming for Howard Alternative Spring Break 2020,” the program stated in an email to their over 1100 participants.
Unfortunately, this announcement did not come as a surprise. “As a program, we faced many speculations of canceling the trip prior to March 12 because of the closing of schools and travel advisories,” said Site Coordinator and graduating senior, Korey Foster.
The reality of COVID-19 and its severity had become increasingly clear in the previous week, reports of the spread of the virus throughout the nation have been inescapable on news outlets and social media platforms.
Only a day after the ASB cancellation, the university announced via email that the Spring semester would continue through remote instruction, encouraging students to move permanently out of their on-campus housing as our future became less predictable.
It is in the weeks that followed that the reality of what we have lost is setting in.
A program of the Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel, ASB has offered Howard students the ability to become immersed in service projects domestically and later internationally for 26 years. In their week of service, participants not only volunteer their time to those in need but are given a unique opportunity to be exposed to communities far different from their own.
With focused initiatives such as education, youth empowerment, community restoration and gun violence prevention, ASB is a trailblazer in the sphere of university service projects.
“I was drawn to ASB because I have a passion for service. I went to a volunteer fair early in the semester, and when I talked to some members of ASB I could tell that they shared that same passion. Even though we did not go, I am certain that it would have been a great trip for everyone involved,” said freshman biology major Christle Vidor.
It is an experience that will be sorely missed as our realities become increasingly bleak, especially by seniors who as a result of the progression of COVID-19 have lost out on cherished experiences in their final semester on campus.
The cancellation of ASB was only one of many disappointments for our graduating seniors. They along with high school and college seniors across the country are mourning the loss of long-awaited senior festivities, forced to accept postponed graduations and canceled proms.
Yet, what can be held on to in these times of frustration and fear is the memory of how much was achieved in the weeks and months prior to the global pandemic.
The hard work and sleepless nights are not to be forgotten or dismissed. ASB and our graduating seniors are to be celebrated for their work and supported by our community as they leave college and enter a world that will be irrevocably transformed.
“The one thing I am most proud of achieving with ASB this year would be staying committed. As a program, we had a lot of trying moments when we could’ve given up or completed tasks with only 50 percent effort. I was a part of other organizations that were also time-consuming but with the help of my ASB family, [I had a support system] that stood by my side with every decision I made in terms of my site. ASB gave me a family that I could never forget and let go,” said graduating senior Korey Foster.