Alternative Spring Break

A team of Sonoma State University business and music majors are leaving Saturday, March 15 for Alternative Spring Break 2014 (ASBE) to the Island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. "Alternative" is used because instead of partying all week with peers, these SSU Rotaract members are having fun working in partnership with Bahamian Rotarians and Rotaractors on a remote island to assist in community service projects. Their joint projects include assisting with social enterprise micro loans; classes to help locals start small businesses; donating musical instruments to local kids; teaching music classes; Assisting with a cultural fair and offering five cultural workshops: Peru, Iran, Taiwan, Kenya and USA. The five cultural workshops, each taught by a SSU Rotaract member from the country presented, are located in the Eleuthera Arts and Cultural Center (EACC) building. In turn, the locals present workshops to educate SSU students about the Bahamian culture. This cultural center building was a project which SSU Rotaract (working alongside many local volunteers) helped build during their ASBE trip in 2011. This international community service trip will be the third for these SSU ambassadors.

SSU Rotaract is the college subsidiary of Rotary Clubs of Rancho Cotati and Santa Rosa East. Sonoma State University business students and the lead member of the SSU entrepreneurial center, have been meeting weekly on SSU campus since October 2013 to earn two units of college credit in Social Entrepreneurship taught by Robert Girling and Mary Graves in preparation for and during this trip. In 2012, the ASBE 2012 under the direction of SRJC Anthropologist Dianne Smith, spent their spring break week video taping elders telling stories of the past and writing down life histories. ASBE 2012 left a video and photos still on display in the Eleuthera Arts and Cultural center in Tarpum Bay, Eleuthera which will host the KIVA micro loan and business planning classes, the new band and the cultural workshops.

In 2012 two SSU business students Earl Dunivan and Suroj Marajan, in partnership with Eleuthera Rotary were able to secure a matching grant from Rotary International for a social entrepreneurship project that today still helps fund their emergency vehicles on this island of Eleuthera. This year the now graduated Earl Dunivan, current business student Paula Bish and Rotarian advisor Alice kibwaa are working in partnership for a new matching grant. Jarod Salinas-Dick and Emily Chen are working on micro-loans , Patrick Maloney on small business development, and senior SSU music major Merissa Rolley will lead the Eleuthera music jam sessions and teach classes to their new band. Sara Dinari, Andrea Aviles-Cigarrostegui , Michelle Sevu and Emily Chen will conduct the cultural workshops. Rotary clubs of Rancho Cotati and Santa Rosa East will also be represented on the trip by Rotaract advisors Bill Thomas and Mimi Lemaski respectively. SSU School of Business and Economics professor Robert Girling will be the featured Eleuthera Rotary Club speaker.