Read more about past members' trips!
Joining ASB Ryerson in my third year was the most rewarding decision I’ve made here at Ryerson University. For one breath-taking month, 11 other extraordinary individuals and I embarked on an unforgettable journey to Nepal. This was the first time I had ever left the continent of North America and I’m glad I conquered my fear with ASB. In the weeks leading up to departure, ASB taught me so many things I would never have learned elsewhere. Most importantly I learned to be a smart, safe traveller, a strong team-member, and to challenge myself in unique ways. I’ve created connections and lifelong friendships within the Ryerson community, which would not have been possible without ASB. The guaranteed positivity, laughter, and tears of pure joy are part of what makes ASB one of the greatest things I’ve ever done in my life. Thank-you forever ASB Ryerson.
Jake Jamieson - Team Nepal 2017
Mohamed Abo Ali - Team India 2016
After 7 months of learning about ethical and sustainable volunteering abroad, fundraising, raising awareness and working for a goal. We finally reach Toronto Pearson airport and I meet as team India 2016. I've travelled before but never with a group and never with a cause, I remember thinking to myself while I was looking around at the rest of the team laying on our backpacks on the ground, "what did I get myself into, a month with complete randoms I met at my university in a foreign country". I kept my thoughts to myself, of course.
My next major memory was getting off the bus in Marayoor after a long bumpy/ most scenic ride ever. We get off the bus and we all look around, for 30 seconds it's complete silence while we take everything in. Be it culture shock, fascination with beauty, I think it was the excitement of finally reaching our goal! It was that all of our training back in Toronto will now be put to work and we were so excited to get started. Whatever it was, we all got over it 30 seconds in, the village welcomed us in and we accepted that welcome with the utmost gratitude.
Living and Working in Marayoor drove me to work my hardest, and push myself to limits that I didn't know I had. The locals there were the hardest working people I've ever met, and I wanted to meet their standards. Families in Marayoor appreciated their land and worked so hard on it and our team was there to help in any way we could (where it was needed). Living there I witnessed a way of life that I fell in love with, all the challenges we were faced with, we turned into opportunities of growth we can learn from, which left us appreciating everything from this trip. I have nothing but good memories of this trip and this team. A month of hanging out with the locals, working with masons, spending the best afternoons on the roof top with team India 2016, created this memory that I will always try to measure everything I do in life too! I saw a sense of community and happiness that I haven't seen before and in Marayoor, I got to experience it because they shared it with me and the team!
Nicole Hack - Team India 2015
After coming home from travelling with ASB, the first thing I was asked was, “how was your trip?!”. I honestly didn’t know how to explain how I felt or how to describe what had just happened to me. My older sister Arleigh was the one who introduced me to ASB, as she herself is an ASB Alumni (Kenya, 2013). Travelling to India in 2015 with ASB was without a doubt the most valuable personal journey I have ever embarked on. It has taken me almost a whole year to reflect on just how big of an impact it had on me in the way that I see myself, my ability to handle stress in my life, and in the way I understand the world and people around me. The things you learn when travelling in such a way that ASB allows you to do reside with you long after the journey is over. Though the change I feel in myself may not be visible to everyone else, I feel a new internal confidence that is guiding every decision I have made since I have gotten home and because of that, I am the happiest I have ever been. It is here that I see the value in ASB. It is this unique opportunity that I experienced as a young amateur traveller that has set me up for success, not just as a traveller, but also in so many other aspects of my life. So when someone asks me, “how was your trip?!”, quite simply my response is that it was the best decision I have ever made and it was a life-changing experience.
Ray Kao - Team Uganda 2014
My journey with ASB was about crossing paths and creating bonds, however fleeting, with people who have left an indelible impression on me. What continues to linger on my mind like the synchronizing voices and resonating melodies of my favourite Boyz II Men ballad, even more nostalgic than the idyllic romanticism ascribed to the exotic locales I visited, is the chorus of spontaneous camaraderie, community, and collaboration which united the spirits of strangers and distant cultures alike.
I look back to my days with ASB with much fondness and gratitude for the reciprocity of considerate colleagues who continuously complimented and compromised, the goodwill of local vendors and random folk who supported our fundraising efforts, and the helping hand and unending hospitality of foreigners who laboured and laughed with us. Rather than finding warmth in familiarity and material possessions, clothed by the security that others had provided, I was able to bask in the radiance of new experiences and simply enjoy the moment. And there were many fun and memorable moments indeed:
Moments of shared delight and respite; as we huddled and celebrated the end of our final fundraiser, smiling in recognition of great expenditures in unaccounted time, energy, and emotional sacrifice being rewarded with a trip to Uganda within sight. Moments of delirious bonding; as gentle friends, afflicted by the equatorial humidity of Uganda, dropped their hoes in the middle of work and turned into rebellious mud-smearing foes. Moments of courteous understanding; as every phrase I uttered in Lugandan, devoid of proper syntax, was met with adoring cheers from locals who appreciated my desire to befriend more than my linguistic ineptitude. Moments of juvenile playfulness; as we hiked towards the summit of a breezy hill and, like a scene out of an old school kung-fu epic, sparred with our friends from Byana, who poised to strike using the emblematic Ugandan crane stance. Moments of nourishing intimacy; as I cooked and conversed with the wonderful women of the village inside the cramped and steamy cookhouse. Moments of contemplative relaxation; as we wallowed in wonder beside the cozy, crackling campfire, under the limitless expanse of the surreal night sky. Moments of priceless exchange; as I paid a humbling visit to the modest quarters of a veteran of life (the grandmother of one of our local buddies) from whom I acquired a cherished souvenir – a lovely little basket woven with her wrinkled, yet still nimble hands that have toiled and nurtured through adversity. And moments of sheer jubilation, as we danced the night away with our gracious hosts on the penultimate eve of our departure. These are vivid memories that evoke unbridled joy, humility, harmony, and optimism.
ASB offered an opportunity for all of us to belong while we strived for the personal and common goals of happiness and peace. It is in the enlightening process and constructive pursuit of a mutually beneficial, adaptive ideal amongst people of wide-ranging personalities, beliefs, tastes, and talents; that I wholly encourage students, at the prime of their youth, to experience ASB and be inspired to move on and seek a more wholesome future at the “End of The Road”!
Arleigh Hack - Team Kenya 2013
My experience with Alternative Spring Break Ryerson was unforgettable and inspiring. ASB provided me the opportunity to learn and grow personally through a profound cultural experience that contributed to my life as well as helped out the Dago community. As a beginner traveler, my experience with ASB helped develop my confidence to be independent and deepened my curiosity of the world that continues to drive me to explore new places and challenge my limitations.
Jeff Hau - Team Kenya 2013
There isn’t enough space here to tell you how much my trip to Kenya with ASB meant to me, but I will give you a little sample. I went for early morning runs and was able to witness numerous Kenyan sunrises, I saw lions roaming the safari just a few feet away, I saw my first shooting star, and I had developed a deep connection with community members while I was there. Without joining ASB, I don’t think I would have met a great friend to share my life with and eventually moved into an apartment together, nor would I have understood the fragility of life when I met my best friend who I have shared my laughter and tears with, and I highly doubt that I would be able to carry out an academic research project to help the people of the community who were all so welcoming when we visited. The trip is what you make of it, ASB has provided me with the tools I need as I embark on a new life-changing journey. I highly recommend you to join ASB and I hope your experiences will be far greater than you have ever imagined.
Hailey Caradonna - Team Ghana 2012
ASB, ASB, ASB. Where does one begin. I don’t know that there is a week that has gone by since returning that I do not think about our trip. To try and put all that I learned from ASB into written form or even a cohesive thought in my mind is tough because there is honestly just too much for me to ever fully be aware of. What myself and several of my team members took away from this journey will and can never be forgotten or unlearned. We may fall into old habits whatever they may be but we are forever aware of how we have fallen back into them as most are for the worse. I think one of the most important things ASB teaches is the power of not knowing in a sense - as much as your leaders and your team can plan, no one knows what is actually going to happen when you land - and to me that is the most amazing thing that I have now learned to love.
Going into such a crazy adventure if you will, the main priority is to have little to no expectations. As difficult as that may be for some it only creates for a win win situation. Gah, writing this is like telling a love story that you never got over. I fell in love. I will forever be in love. The journey we went on took us all on different paths and for many of my close friends I made on this trip although together in the experience we all learned new things about ourselves and each other - things we may have no even known ourselves.
Shortly after my ASB trip I embarked on a year long exchange in Singapore. Here I was just back and I was to be leaving for a year any day. It was an adventure - mind you something I would never undo. However, without having gone on ASB I don’t think my experience abroad would have be the same, i don’t know that i would have travelled to nearly every country in South East Asia.
Shortly i will be entering my final semester of undergrad and I can not imagine where or what I would be doing if I hadn’t taken that plunge - applied to ASB - and frankly I don’t want to imagine. ever. because if I hadn’t done the things I did I wouldn’t be where I am.
If you’re reading this contemplating applying to asb or whatever may have brought you here - go out and just do it and do it with no expectations - then theres always an upside ;)
James MacMillan - Team Ghana 2012
I was a member of ASB’s team Ghana in 2012 during my last year of study at Ryerson. Our team joined a grassroots non-profit organization which partook in a number of small development projects aimed to benefit members of a local community affected by mental and physical disabilities.
My team and I were aware that our limited time and resources would prevent us from significantly changing the lives of this disadvantaged group; however, we were unaware of how impactful and transformative this experience would be for us. My work with these children was extremely rewarding and humbling, but most of all it was educational. This experience allowed me to put faces and names to political and social issues that I had previously examined from a theoretical, classroom environment.
Following ASB I moved to South Korea where I was employed by a government program which places foreign English Teachers in rural areas of the country, where children have little access to English education. After a year and a half in Korea I have returned to Toronto where I will begin a Masters in Development Studies at York University. The experiences I have had as a member of Alternative Spring Break Ghana are integral to where I find myself now, pursing career goals in the international development field.
Kelly Chessman - Team Colombia 2011
Deciding to sign up with Alternative Spring Break was one of the easiest decisions I have made. My decision to do so was done on almost a 'whim', but for the little bit of information that I did know, I knew it was going to be life changing and that is exactly what it was.
I was involved in the 2011 team that went to Colombia and worked on several projects while in country. Some being working with the elderly, helping out at a children's group home and rebuilding a library at the same location. Although there were times of confusion and frustration, those ended up being the most significant moments because that is where I felt I learnt the most. I learned that embracing and understanding culture is one of the most important things a person can do in life, that things do not always of as planned but that makes for the best moments, and to always go into situations in life with an open mind and an open heart.
ASB was the stepping stone for me to discover my love of travel and philanthropy, and through my experience with it I was able to spend the past year teaching, travelling and volunteering abroad in South East Asia. For me the decision to sign up to ASB was easy, but it was also one of the best decisions I have ever made, so to any potential members my only advice would be to sign up and get ready for one the best experiences of your life!