Anna Murray’s trip down south for spring break last year didn’t focus on partying on the beach—it focused more on scrubbing mold off of walls. She was one of 12 students who participated in the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trip to New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward to help with recovering efforts more than six years after Hurricane Katrina hit the area.
It’s an experience that has stuck with her.
“You can only learn so much in your classes without experiencing it firsthand,” she said. “You learn so much about your self and the people around you when you go on a trip like this.”
This year, she helped other students embark on ASB trips by auctioning off a collection of her photography.
“I wanted to support the program, help relieve some of the financial burden for other students,” Murray said, noting that the volunteer trips cost more than $ 300 per participant.
Murray auctioned off 16 photographs from her ASB travels to New Orleans and Maryville, Tenn.
The architecture of old New Orleans, the Foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, the indigenous wildlife of both areas: Murray said the images best represented the culture and the work done through the trips.
The auction was Murray’s project for the Blueprints Leadership Program, a nine-month program for student leaders who are dedicated to the idea of social change.
“I don’t have a lot of money, but I have time to invest in what I believe in,” she said.
With the encouragement of Amy Karaban, who oversees the program, Murray planned the entire auction evening, complete with hors d’oeuvres and entertainment.
Murray hopes her idea for the fundraiser continues to develop and grow on campus. She envisions an event with multiple artists submitting their work—all so that others can have the same life-changing experience she has had.
“Coming back [from ASB], I gained a sense of gratitude for how I live and an expanded mind frame for how I see the world,” she said.
“You can have a completely different experience from the ‘typical spring break’ if you’re open to it. I hope the students on this year’s trips gain at least an iota of what I did.”
This year’s ASB groups will depart Friday, February 23, and travel to Chicago, Virginia and Toronto. Follow their updates on the ASB blog.