Prateek Raikwar

Let's learn more about the unique ASB experience from Prateek!

Area of Study:

Neuroscience Major, Music Minor, Pre-Med Track

Hometown:

Coralville, Iowa

How did you get involved with Alternative Spring Break?

I got involved with Alternative Spring Break because I wanted to become a more active and informed citizen. In the past I focused a lot of my time on academics, learning theoretical approaches to solving modern issues instead of actually applying the knowledge to the real world. Thus, I felt that it would be valuable for me to participate in ASB to see and address those problems in a more practical setting. This opportunity has enabled me to take a step back, reflect, and reassess myself and my goals.

During weekly classes, I learned more about food insecurity and had the chance to provide my own genuine thoughts in a comfortable discussion environment. I'm now more informed and interested in food security, and I'm eager to expand my knowledge into other modern issues as well.

Describe a bit more about your experience with ASB... What did you learn? Who did you meet? How has it impacted the way you see the world?

My group focused on the issue of food insecurity in Atlanta. We served at four organizations, including food banks and distribution sites. We packaged food and interacted with a variety of people in the community, including staff of those organizations, people experiencing homelessness, and other volunteers. One of the most surprising things I learned in our group's weekly discussions before the trip was the prevalence of food insecurity, and my interactions with those four organizations reinforced my feeling of surprise. Regardless of their current status, many of those people had experienced food insecurity in the past, each in a different way with their own story. Fortunately, they were willing to share their stories. One big takeaway for me was that no matter where someone is right how, I might never know where they were in the past. I shouldn't make assumptions, but listen instead.

What is your favorite memory, experience, or takeaway?

Before we left for Atlanta, I wondered how the trip (in a single city for less than one week) would help each member in our group reach a deeper understanding of how to address food insecurity. I believe the reflections at the end of each day during the trip provided us the opportunity to find potential answers. These discussions were deeply personal, tying together what we learned before the trip, the service we did, and our own past experiences. As I listened to the members in my group and analyzed the type of questions we asked each other, I sensed the trust we were building that would grow throughout the trip. The honesty and respect we gave each other during those discussions are a big reason why the reflections are my favorite memory. Furthermore, I believe that I can take how we approached those reflections to better serve and approach food insecurity in Iowa City and beyond.