Alternative Spring Break


Hurricane Sandy has left parts of Staten Island and the New York Metropolitan Area in ruins. The impact on the people of these areas has been devastating and the recovery period will be long and painful. Because of the unprecedented nature of this storm, Wagner College is offering a 5-day Alternative Spring Break on Staten Island and other parts of the metropolitan area. This experience will provide students with opportunities to help those people most devastated by the storm through daily service projects and to engage in a deeper analysis of how a variety of diverse communities were differentially affected by one of the worst hurricanes of the 20th century.

General Description

Topics include:

  • The differences between the governmental response to Katrina and the response to Sandy;
  • The ways in which poor people were especially devastated by the storm;
  • How the undocumented day laboring workforce was affected by the storm both socially and economically
  • How a combination of private and public resources were used to recover from the storm;
  • What the experience of both Sandy and Katrina indicate to us about the quest for social justice in America;
  • How the need for a response to Sandy helped to build a sense of community;
  • What the stories of residents most affected by the storm suggest about preparedness, impact, and lessons for the future;
  • The likely long-term effects on Staten Island and other parts of New York and New Jersey.

Unlike other alternative spring breaks, this program will entail both direct service and academic study. Mornings and early afternoons will be devoted to volunteer activities in the most affected areas in the New York Metropolitan area. Late afternoons and evenings will be given over to reflection, discussion, short lectures, films, and other cultural activities in New York City. In addition, an effort will be made to begin the process of gathering oral histories about the experiences of Staten Islanders. How they coped with the storm and how their cultural resources helped them make sense of what had happened.

Workshops on strategies for enhancing listening skills, on storytelling and recurring themes that can emerge from stories, as well as the skill-set needed for conducting oral histories will also be explored. Some of these workshops may precede Alternative Spring Break, so that students can be better prepared to collect substantive oral histories during the time that we are together.

Finally, the Alternative Spring Break experience will be an opportunity for the participants themselves to build a sense of community through action, reflection, and knowledge building. Participants will be asked to present a creative project at the Civic Engagement Showcase in late April of 2013. The issues to be discussed and reflected upon are serious and daunting, but our approach is designed as well to be inspiring, highly collaborative, lighthearted, and fun. We look forward to working with you and making this a time for all of us to deepen our relationships with one another.

Begin Date: Sunday, March 10,2013
End Date: Thursday, March 14, 2013


Housing: All Wagner students selected to participate in Alternative Spring Break will be allowed to remain in their campus housing at no additional cost.

Transportation: Transportation for Wagner College students will be provided by the college through the Wagner Van service and Metrocards will supplied to students when traveling into the city.

Meals: Students will not be charged for meals provided by campus dining services; this includes all breakfast, boxed lunches, and campus dinners. Students will not be charged for the cost of off-campus meals.

Safety Deposit: A $50.00 fee is due on February 28th for each student participant. The full amount of $50.00 will be returned to the student participant upon completion of the ASB experience (in April). If students do not complete their ASB agreement, their $50.00 deposit will be donated to the WagnerCares Fund.


Interested students must apply online no later than February 27, 2013 by 4:00 PM.  The online application asks students to upload a cover letter and a resume, so please be prepared with those documents before you begin the application.


Antium Font. Textbooks available on Reserve