Student visits Costa Rica with Alternative Breaks

Nia Young/Entertainment Director

Alternative Breaks allows student to break free of the usual routine of spring break with their student lead service programs.

“Alternative Breaks is a service oriented, student lead program at FIU, focused on volunteer work,” says Yunova Delgadillo, a senior interdisciplinary studies major.

Delgadillo is a site leader for an upcoming trip to Costa Rica, where she will be working hand in hand with La Tortuga Feliz, an animal welfare project that will help sea turtles survive in their environment.

Delgadillo says she was an integral part of planning this trip.

“Site Leader is the most intense position in Alternative Breaks. The site leader keeps in contact with the community partner, plans fundraising dates, set goals, selects participants for the trip, keeps in contact with the committee board and handles logistics,” Delgadillo said.

Nashira Williams, advisor for Alternative Breaks and assistant director of the Center for Leadership and Service explains, Alternative Break’s Steering Committee is responsible for creating service experiences for the winter, spring, and summer vacations. These students choose sites from the parent company, Break Away,  and develop relationships with the site to ensure the travelling team will be safe and have a successful time there.

“We are not choosing groups that are going to go and do administrative work. The committee is looking for projects that will offer strong direct service pertaining to that site’s social issue,” Williams explained.

Site selection caters to students’ interest in their major but Williams stresses it shouldn’t stop students from applying to work out of their major.

“If you’re a bio major who wants to go read to kids, by all means we want you to got out and read to kids,” she said.

While on site Delgadillo says students will spend a week with an organization whose goal is to develop their social issue and better their community. The issues addressed in Alternative breaks span a variety of social issues, from homelessness to the environment.

Williams says registration for AB happens over the summer, and the application opens during  final’s week. Delgadillo says eager students that missed the deadline for the main trips shouldn’t worry; Alternative Breaks offers “aB Express,” three-day service trips within the state of Florida.

“Everyone involved will train all through the fall and spring semester,” says Williams. “Participants will also go through Emergency Preparedness Training with the FIU Police for active shooter scenarios, in case we’re in a place where that is necessary.”

For applicants looking to become a site leader Williams says that Alternative Breaks will meet you where you are in terms of experience.

“We understand that not all student will come with a lofty resume…We want to honor that and be your first shot at a leadership position,” Williams said.

Delgadillo and Williams share their top five items to bring in an Alternative Breaks carry on stressing that “Simple Living”, is the way to travelling:


  • Bug Spray,
  • [Disposable] Film Camera
  • List of Participants names and emergency contact numbers
  • Pair of boots,
  • Map of Costa Rica


  • aB Shirt
  • comb/brush combo
  • Cash
  • Phone
  • Thank you cards

Image retrieved from Flickr. 

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