By: Jonathan Szydlo/Staff Writer
For many college students, the beaches of Jamaica represent the perfect spring break vacation. But for alternativeBreaks, the real fun begins inland. Instead of enjoying a Red Stripe as the waves crash onto the shore, members of alternativeBreaks help the local community emerge from their impoverished conditions.
For the rest of February, students participating in alternativeBreaks will throw a car wash in front of Academic Two, said Anastasia Strachan, a junior and nursing student and site leader for alternativeBreaks,
“We’re here washing cars, as a fundraiser for alternativeBreaks. We’re going to Jamaica, in the Blue Mountains, outside of Kingston, to work in the impoverished community there as our spring break service project,” said Andrew Altemann, a junior hospitality management major and alternativeBreak site leader. “We’re just trying to raise enough money so that we can get there and, hopefully, back as well.”
Altemann and Strachan are the site leaders for alternativeBreaks’ service trip to the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica this coming spring break from March 12 to 19.
“It’s similar to Habitat for Humanity, but we’re not going to be doing as much building,”
Altemann said. “A lot of it is healthcare related or, since they have a small community there, even trying to get businesses to grow. [The majority] of it is up keep with schools and buildings, and that sort of thing.”
The alternativeBreaks Jamaica group will be involved in multiple projects while on the island. They will be working on career service programs including, but not limited to, resume writing, interview skills and etiquette, and how to conduct a job search.
They will also be assisting the women of the community by setting up different exercise regimen and work out classes to promote healthier lifestyles as a part of their healthcare education program, along with a third project that will mostly consist of the beautification of the community through some light construction and upkeep of community facilities, such as community centers, school, and shops.
“Anastacia may be doing some work in the clinic, as she is a nursing major. Our itinerary has yet to be finalized, so nobody really knows the precise details of our work, but that’s what we know thus far,” added Altemann in an e-mail.
AlternativeBreaks began in 1994 as a single group of friends interested in taking a road trip with the intentions of changing the world. Now, fifteen years later, alternativeBreaks consists of more than 300 student members performing community service projects locally, domestically, and throughout the international community.
With the belief, as the alternativeBreaks website describes, “Cost shouldn’t prevent any student from participating”, alternativeBreaks offers programs at a fee of $150 for domestic trips and a fee maxed at $350 for international projects. This commitment to low costs however, has put some alternativeBreak projects at risk due to its dependence on donations.
AlternativeBreaks regularly checks in with groups as a means of monitoring their fundraising progress. If groups are off track, alternatives are presented, such as switching project sites, shortening the length of the project, or looking at ways to reduce project expenses.
However, if a group does not meet their fundraising goals, the trip is cancelled.
“This year so far, university wide, we’ve had one trip canceled and two teams merged to one team/trip to combine their efforts,” says Ana Perez
With a target goal of raising $2,000, and nearly $500 raised in the past two weeks, this group of nine participants have their hands full in the upcoming month.
The alternativeBreaks Jamaica group will host their carwashes on Tuesdays for the remainder of February from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. in front of Academic Two. For more information, or to make a donation to alternativeBreaks, visit www2.fiu.edu/~abreak/.