Students to do “acts of service” through Alternative Breaks

Ceylin Arias/Staff Writer and Guethshina Altena/Assistant News Director

Every break, Alternative Breaks sends multiple groups of students to different areas of the world to help other individuals with specific issues. This year, the program has 13 different trips planned for spring break.

Participating students will be sent to various locations, either nationally or abroad. Some of the trips include visiting Tennessee, California, Peru, Guyana, Dominican Republic and South Africa, according to Curtis Litwiller, the director of Strategic Planning for Alternative Breaks.

“Each group has 2 Site Leaders, who are the facilitators. They organize financial and logistical plans, team building activities, issue-based educational material, and reflections for their teams throughout the year,” Litwiller said in an email to Student Media.

Each group will have around five to 10 participants who will be learning about various social issues such as environmental, youth development, health, HIV/LGBTQ, animal welfare, poverty/homelessness and disaster recovery. 

The volunteer’s work varies depending on the social issues the trips are working with. Those in environmental, for example, he said, may potentially work invasive species removal or helping plant new trees.

“I know the ones working with youth will be working with those who need more assistance with their learning process but also being able to have fun with them at the same time,” Litwiller said.

Most trips are composed of eight to 15 participants.  The Site Leaders are the ones who interview the participants to see who would be best fit for their own specific trip.

“We just started the first ever scholarships for AB. We have two scholarships that can cover up to $250 in participant fees,” Litwiller said  “If students are struggling to pay their fees to be able to go on these trips, they can take more time out of their day to fundraise their fees. We provide many opportunities for those who would like to go on a trip but can not financially support themselves.”

Students who participate in Alternative Breaks, according to Litwiller’s email, will be able to: recognize the importance of social responsibility, build relations and use reflection as a tool for lifelong learning.

Litwiller himself participated in the program when he was a freshman and has been working with Alternative Breaks for four years already.

“I started off when I became a freshman site leader for a trip to Selma, Alabama to work with disadvantaged youth. We worked with the only church that was not segregated in the community. Coming back from my trip, I realized it was one of the most enjoyable moments of my life,” Litwiller said .

Later in his sophomore and junior year’s, Litwiller went to Rhinebeck, New York  with Alternative Breaks to work with young adults affected by autism.

“These trips impacted me so much, I applied to work there over summer of 2017 to work as the dining hall manger and to assist with young kids that were on the autistic spectrum,” he said.

Brande Estime, a sophomore psychology major, has witnessed many of her friends, including her roommate, go through a year of service with Alternative Breaks.

“I think it is a great program especially for people who’s majors relate to philanthropy works and such,” Estime said.

Estime said that she would like to do a trip with Alternative Breaks eventually before she graduates the University. She is especially interested in visiting Guatemala or the Bahamas for a couple days of service.

“I would recommend Alternative Breaks to my peers since I wanna go soon and I am confident that I will be a great experience,” Estime said. “I would not recommend something to someone if I was myself going to do it as well.”

Estime believes that the program is a “fit for all” and that any student can benefit from it. Students can also look into the many different trips options that Alternative Breaks has available.

Students interested in the program can look at the different trip options available on the Alternative Break’s OrgSync page. Students interested in participating also apply through the OrgSync page. Applications for the next Alternative Breaks will open in the fall.  


Feature Image retrieved from Flickr.