Since the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program began in 2003, its tagline has been “Be the change…”. This is an adaptation of Mahatma Gandhi’s well-known words: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”. Over the years, we have had questions from participants about the meaning of the tagline. Since we emphasize that transformative change cannot happen within the course of a one-week program, why do we maintain a tagline that suggests the opposite?
It is important to understand the change we are encouraging is personal.
To illuminate this idea, we can turn to Gandhi again:
“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.”
By participating in an international community engaged learning program, like ASB, you are committing to examining yourself, and your relationship to others, on a deeper level. Many program participants talk about the personal changes they make when they return from ASB because of the experiences they have had, the people they have met, and the self-exploration they have undertaken.
The tagline suggests these small (but not insignificant) changes are what will – eventually – help to create the kind of world we want.