Impact social issues with Alternative Breaks

Students have the opportunity to form friendships while giving back to the community.

Alternative Breaks is a student-led organization offered through Student Life. It gives students the chance to work in groups, learn about social issues and volunteer.

Four trips will occur over spring break and one in the summer. Each group tackles a different social issue.

The upcoming issues include: Urban Poverty, Animal Welfare, Therapeutic Services, Assisting the Elderly and Impacting the Community.

Professional and technical writing senior Kristin Falls will attend her fourth Alternative Breaks trip as a site leader. Falls and her group will work with a non-profit agency for the Assisting the Elderly issue.

Falls hopes that her participants come away from the trip with “more awareness about the elderly population.”

Falls believes that people do not understand the issues the aging population face. In a previous trip, Falls was able to learn more about Alzheimer’s and came to realize that many people misunderstand it.

“The social issues that I’ve learned about have totally opened my eyes to things I never knew. It’s a totally great experience and I always tell people they should do it,” Falls said.

Biology junior Jennifer Buchner has attended multiple trips and will be working with the Medici Project for the Urban Poverty issue. Along with volunteering, Buchner values the friendships she has formed with other participants.

“You get so close on a trip. You do reflection every night where you just talk about the service you’ve done,” Buchner said.

Participants spend a lot of time together before they leave for the trip. Students fundraise together, attend weekly meeting and also participate in bonding nights.

Buchner said some people become upset because they think students only volunteer in other communities. However, students have a service day before they leave and then after the trip they undergo a reorientation program.

Reorientation is a way for students to bring back what they have learned and apply it to their own community.

In many cases, students may experience issues they do not normally have exposure to. Professional and technical writing senior Dylan Loga would not classify himself as an animal person, but he will be a site leader for the Animal Welfare issue.

Loga said he wants to learn more about the human needs animals help with, such as being guide dogs.

“I want the participants to learn the importance of what they’re going to do, to realize they’re making a good difference,” Loga said.

Some students may be reluctant to give up their break, but Buchner said the trips still feel like a break and you come back feeling refreshed and a better person.

“The biggest thing for me with Alternative Breaks is being able to go to something as big and scary as college and taking it down to a level where you feel comfortable and you feel like you’re making a difference. College can be scary and lonely and when you’re united it just feels good,” she said.

This entry was posted on Monday, February 17th, 2014 and is filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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