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Students

Alternative Breaks: Take a trip that makes a difference

October 4, 2013
by Crystal Ligon

Students often count the days until their next school break, especially the ever-coveted Spring Break.

They get excited to head home or go on excursions with friends -- planning trips several months ahead. Some students, however, decide to take a trip that makes a difference in not only their own life but in the lives of others.

The Office of Student Leadership, Involvement, and Community Engagement (SLiCE) sponsors Alternative Breaks, affectionately dubbed AltBreaks, where students forgo the typical trip and choose an option that hopefully leaves impact.

“Alternative breaks are essentially about creating magic,” Jen Johnson, assistant director for volunteer programs, said. “We plan trips that consistently transform the lives of students and communities for the better. I’ve been involved with this program for nearly 10 years, and when I think about our work, I get chills.”

Combating social issues

On these trips, students take on volunteer opportunities with like-minded peers to combat a variety of social issues. Students immerse into different cultural, environmental, and socio-economic communities across the nation and in different countries. Through their volunteer service, students receive education about current social and cultural issues facing the host communities.

Past trips have focused on issues of hunger, AIDS/HIV, homelessness, matters facing Native Americans living on reservations, environmental conservation, education, and women’s issues. This year, there will be trips focusing on sustainability issues, immigration and refugees, outdoor youth education, urban youth poverty, and domestic and sexual violence.

Students, ranging in age, major, and background, can choose from a variety of destination locations -- from Denver to Achiote, Panama. There are 15 trips available to students this year, most of them lasting one week. With the application deadline for the 2014 Alternative Spring Break approaching at the end of this month, students are urged to submit their materials early. About 300 students apply on average, and there are 150 spots available.

Informational meetings

Informational meetings will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 22, at LSC Grey Rock Room, and from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23, at Lory Student Center Room 220. The meetings will provide more details about the trips, locations, and cost. Interested participants can also pick up an application. The applications for the 2014 Alternative Spring Break trips are available online at RamLink.

More information about each trip.