Students visit Boone and Asheville in western N.C. for Fall Alternative Breaks

The Alternative Breaks Program offered the mid-October experience to introduce students to social issues that impact communities in North Carolina.

While many Elon students spend fall break at home or traveling with friends, a select group committed to spending their break engaging in service and advocacy work.

Sponsored through the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement, the Alternative Breaks Program allows students, faculty and staff to spend a week away from campus to immerse themselves in new communities while working to address pressing social issues.

Participants ventured to Asheville and Boone in western North Carolina. Each program is student-led and student-run, with 10 to 15 participants. Coordinators worked throughout the first month of the school year recruiting student participants and faculty/staff learning partners. They established and maintained a positive relationship with community partners, planned all logistics of the trip and incorporated education about the location and social issue so participants would have a better understanding of their experience.

Led by Lucy Jones ‘19 and Imani Henderson ‘19, the Food Justice program partnered with multiple organizations in the Asheville community to learn more about innovative solutions for addressing food insecurity and hunger. North Carolina is currently one of the top 10 hungriest states in the nation. Through sorting and organizing food donations, learning about food policy and engaging in conversation, the Food Justice trip exposed participants to the greater issue of food insecurity and the components that fall under this issue.

In Boone, Lara Struckman ‘21 and Ashley Billie ‘21 led the Sustainable Living program that partnered with Turtle Island Nature Preserve to unplug and learn about Turtle Island’s “Spartan lifestyle.” This trip had more of a physical labor focus, as participants worked to help continue the effort to maintain the outdoor education center. Participants left this trip with a new perspective on sustainable living and feeling more in touch with our environment.

“Alternative breaks will change your life! I have learned so much on the two trips I have gone on, and I just want to keep on going,” said Billie. For Billie and Struckman, it is not about your experience level, rather, Alternative Breaks are all about being open to what you will experience and learn while on the trip.

“People think that it can sometimes be intimidating and think how much impact can you actually make on an Alternative Breaks trip, but don’t let that deter you from applying. It is all about the education. It’s about opening up a new perspective,” said Henderson.