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Ohio State students flock to spring break trips through Buck-I-SERV

Courtesy of Buck-I-SERV

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As Spring Semester gets under way, hundreds of students are waiting to hear how they’ll be spending spring break.
The application deadline for spring break trips with Buck-I-SERV passed on Sunday, and if previous years are any indication, there will be more than enough applicants for the university planned service trips. According to the Buck-I-SERV website, 1,185 students applied for trips from 2010 to 2011, and 670 students participated.
Buck-I-SERV receives 5.2 percent of the student activity fee – this percentage amounting to $202,488 for this fiscal year. This student-run organization provides opportunities for students at Ohio State to go on week-long, substance-free alternative break trips.
The service trips are held during winter break, spring break and the summer to offer students alternatives to a traditional break vacation.
The student activity fee covers 60 percent of the trip’s cost, leaving the remaining 40 percent to be covered by each Buck-I-SERV participant. Each full-time student pays a $37.50 activity fee every semester. The student activity fee generated $4.48 million in fiscal year 2012, according to Lantern archives.
Dave Isaacs,  Student Life spokesman, said the student activity fee helps keep the price of going on the trip low for students, which according to the Ohio Union website, ranges between $175 and $350 for domestic trips.
However, the international trips are significantly more expensive. A spring break trip to Belize City, Belize, costs $1,000 per participant, and summer trips to Cape Town, South Africa, and Ghana cost $3,500 and $1,200, respectively, according to the Buck-I-SERV website.
Lydia Nader, Buck-I-SERV president and third-year in human nutrition, said during her freshmen year she took her first trip with Buck-I-SERV to Charleston, S.C., working with the nonprofit organization Habitat for Humanity.
“It provided me with opportunities to look within myself and see what this experience was providing for me and what was I doing to better the community I was working with,” Nader said.
Her latest trip was to Ghana, where Buck-I-SERV traveled to for the first time over winter break. While there, Nader and her team listened to stories and met people dealing with HIV and AIDS.
Nader plans the alternative break trips for Buck-I-SERV with help from an advisory board of about 20 members. The advisory board applications will be released Jan. 23, and no experience with the organization is necessary to apply. Advisory board members help plan the trips and have the opportunity to go on them as well.
“(Buck-I-SERV) is great for students who don’t maybe have the time in their major to do a study abroad,” Nader said. “It provides that opportunity to have something different than what their normal routine for four years is.”
Sally Patton, a fourth-year in public affairs, is planning to go to Belize this spring break for her second Buck-I-SERV trip and her first experience as a student trip leader.
“Since I am graduating, it is a fun way to end my undergraduate career here,” Patton said.
Nader said providing an impressionable experience is what Buck-I-SERV is all about.
“We want to provide students with an opportunity to learn more about themselves on these trips (rather) than just going and doing service and leaving, and not gaining anything from that experience,” Nader said. 

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