Muslim Student Association – Michigan Active Citizen Alternative Spring Break – Barger Leadership Institute

Muslim Student Association – Michigan Active Citizen Alternative Spring Break

By Taaseen Kibria

The goal of Michigan Active Citizen – Alternative Spring Break (MAC-ASB) is “…to foster
active citizenship by engaging with community partners to cultivate an understanding of social
justice issues and to create a community of positive social change on the University of Michigan
campus and beyond.” Due to covid, MAC-ASB has not been able to hold in-person service trips
for the past two years. The last ASB occurred in 2020 and during 2021 and 2022 MAC-ASB had
virtual volunteering opportunities. Every year the Muslim Student’s Association (MSA)
participates in (MAC-ASB) and sends a group of students. I went on my first ASB trip as a
participant my freshman year and this year, my senior year, I was a co-site leader. In my
freshman year ASB had around 15 groups going to different parts of the United States to take
part in different volunteer activities and this year we had 3 groups. Although MAC-ASB is
slowly building back up it is nice to see that people haven’t forgotten about it and hopefully the
organization is able to recover over the next few years.

This year a group of nine of us went to Louisville, Kentucky to teach financial literacy to
elementary students. We taught in different schools every day with very different demographics
and socioeconomic statuses. This hands-on opportunity helped us understand that each individual
student is different and that teaching methods must be made specifically for each student.
Though it is not realistic for one teacher to curate special ways to teach each of the 25-30
students they have, we must do better in assisting our educators so that students get the education
they deserve. We also saw firsthand the differences between high-income and low-income
neighborhoods. The high-income neighborhoods had smaller class sizes and more advanced
technology in their classrooms whereas low-income neighborhoods did not. How can we start
bridging the gap so that every child has access to the same education and opportunities
regardless of where they live?

Through this experience, we gained much more than we gave. We learned how to manage a
classroom of almost 30 students. We had to lesson plan and if/when things wouldn’t work out
during the lesson we had to be quick on our feet and pivot so that the students would stay
engaged. Each class was different so a lesson that was fun for one class was boring for another, a
method of teaching or getting the attention of students that worked for one class didn’t work for
another and we couldn’t tell until we started teaching. Due to these challenges, we learned
valuable leadership skills that we can apply to other parts of our lives.

A personal goal that my co-site leader and I set for our group this year was to create a tight-knit
circle of friends that would continue to support each other after spring break and we were no
longer volunteering with each other. When I participated in ASB during my first year on campus
my group became some of my best friends throughout college and the people that I would lean
on to relieve stress. I was able to learn so much from them and grew into the person I am today
because of them. We wanted to create that same experience for the underclassmen and I think my
co-site leader and I were able to reach that goal. Overall we had a great time volunteering and getting
to know each other and I hope that others are able to get as much out of ASB as I did!

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