Alternative break trips offer social issue focus

Taisha White

For most college students, after the semester is over, their summer begins as they are going back home, to work, or back to the life that they had before coming to school. For others, however, they are looking to take on a different way to spend their summer and focus on giving back to those in need as well as learning about how to serve the world around them through community service.

The Office of Leadership and Community Engagement offers Alternative Break trips which brings students to various destinations for about a week.

From the leader

For May Break Site Leader Caleigh Shaw, the trips are beyond just looking for another way to spend your summer.

“Where you go isn’t the main focus of Alternative Break because it’s all about the education of the social issue and performing the service. Some of the locations this May are Virginia, Florida, Tennessee and El Salvador,” Shaw said. “Trips are usually in the Southeast, but as we’re growing, we’ve gone out West.”

Other international locations that Alternative Break have been, are the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.

Shaw also says that there are plenty of benefits that students can gain including meeting others around the world who have the same interest in social issues.

The details

The Alternative Break Program first got its start back in the spring of 2006, when students were able to volunteer with cleaning up damage coming from Hurricane Katrina. For students, the price of an alternative break can range from $150 to $500 depending on whether the flight required is domestic or international. The trips prices also come with food, housing, travel expenses and a t-shirt.

For students, they will not know exactly where they will be heading for their breaks until the Site Reveal Night. Students are also required to be up to date on medical records, depending on what international trip they are headed to.

Although the deadline for the May alternative break has passed, students can look forward to the fall and winter alternative breaks, which shifts gears and focuses on a different social issue each semester.

For the May break, students were able to choose from breaks including #HopeAmongUs, which focuses on HIV/AIDS and youth development and #SoaringForService, which focuses on community development.

Students can apply for the next alternative break trip through the Office of Leadership and Community Engagement’s social media page and through the MyInvolvement page as well. The next set of trips are scheduled for the Winter break in December.

Applications will be available in the fall semester.