Thursday, April 11, 2013

Alternative Breaks

Before spring break this year, I never thought I could love the Bennion Center any more than I already did. Then, I went on my very first Alternative Spring Break (ASB). It was honestly one of the best weeks of my life! Alternative Breaks are run through the Bennion Center, in partnership with the Center for Student Wellness. In the past, the majority of the trips were over spring break. Now, the program is expanding to a few trips over fall break as well. Alternative Breaks are the perfect combination of service, education, friendships, and fun!

The ASB trip I went on was in Seattle, WA. Each trip has a different focus, and ours was hunger and homelessness. We visited 2-3 different organizations each day, most of which included homeless resource centers and food banks. We were able to provide direct service, such as cleaning rooms and serving food, but we also received a lot of education about what each organization was doing to alleviate hunger and/or homelessness. This trip served as a great reminder of why I became involved in service in the first place. If you are not currently involved in service, these trips will inspire you to start!

Top ten reasons to go on an ASB trip next year:

10. Free t-shirt! All participants get an awesome t-shirt.

9.  When people ask you what you did over your break, you’ll actually have something great to tell them! Plus, you will look like such a good person when you mentioned that you spent most of your break doing service work.

8. Photos! Lots of new friends and sightseeing= lots of picture-taking. You may even get a few entertaining dance videos out of your trip.

7. The trips are relatively cheap compared to what you would normally spend on a vacation. Plus, there is often scholarship money available that will cut the cost down even more!

6. Road trip! Bring good music and some sweet dance moves.

5. Sight-seeing: Although service is a large component of the trip, there is plenty of time for seeing the city and shopping for souvenirs.

4. Networking: If you are particularly interested in the issue that your trip focuses on, you will learn a lot more about some of the organizations you could work with in the future.

3. Meet amazing people: Your staff partner, site leader, and fellow ASB participants will all be great people who are invested in service! Also, the community members you meet at the organizations you serve at will blow your mind.

2. Friendships and bonding: I was really surprised and amazed at how close I became to my ASB Seattle group after only one week. There is something about doing service together that brings people so much closer than they would be otherwise. There was a lot of love, laughter, and life in our group, and I am sure we will be friends for a long time!

1. Service! Volunteering is always great, but being able to participate in service while being in another city and making new friends makes it even better! You will be helping others, but you will also be learning a lot about yourself. It’s a win-win situation.

-Alice Ma, ASB Seattle ‘13 participant
Visit our website for more information on Alternative Breaks. Fall 2013 info coming soon.