Elon University students, faculty and staff traveled for a week in late March to assist communities with service work while learning about social issues that impact communities both in the United States and abroad.
Sponsored through the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement, the Alternative Breaks Program allowed dozens of students, faculty and staff to spend a week away from campus exploring social issues, immersing themselves in local and global communities, and participating in service.
The Alternative Breaks Program took more than 200 participants domestically to South Dakota, California, New Orleans, Florida and Kentucky, and internationally to Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Jamaica.
Each program is student-led and student-run, with 10-12 student participants. Coordinators worked throughout the school year choosing advisors and participants, planning logistics, incorporating education and coordinating with a service site.
Participants spent time getting to know these communities—visiting local sites, meeting community members, and enjoying the local culture. Later in the week, participants engaged in various projects such as building, teaching, painting or gardening. Projects are designed to help them explore a variety of social issues—from hunger and homelessness to rural education to disaster relief.
“Going on an Alternative Break is such an incredible experience because you’re able to truly immerse yourself into a community and learn about its needs and its assets,” said Meredith Berk, one of the student directors for the Alternative Break Program. “While you’re there, you want to share all the resources and knowledge you have with them. But even when you come home, that community and its people have such an impact on your life and you start thinking about how you could help in the future.
“How can you change the world so that community you volunteered in is in a better place 10 years from now?”
The Alternative Breaks Program consists of 16 international and domestic programs offered throughout the year.
For more information on the Alternative Breaks Program or for general information on how to serve in local communities, contact Evan Small at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 336-278-7250 or “like” the Elon Volunteers! Facebook page.
– Story submitted by Evan Small in the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement