Alternative Breaks to offer service opportunities with local focus this year

The annual service opportunities will take place closer to campus this year, with students invited to work with community organizations in programs taking place March 19-21.

Elon’s annual Alternative Breaks will be providing multiple opportunities for students to address needs in local communities this year.

Given restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kernodle Center for Civic Life reoriented the service opportunities to have a more local focus. Additionally, the university adapted its calendar this spring, resulting in multiple, shorter breaks during the course of the semester rather than a week-long spring break.

“We homed in and focused more on issues impacting our local communities with Alternative Breaks this year,” said Kyle Anderson, assistant director for the Kernodle Center for Civic Life. “This allows students to remain closer to campus but still use this break in their schedules to serve.”

The result is five programs in Burlington, Greensboro and Chapel Hill taking place March 19-21. The programs are focused on issues including educational gaps and accessibility, racial justice, immigration and refugee resettlement, housing issues and the intersection of climate, health and agriculture.

The programs are student-led, and combined direct and indirect service, education about social issues, critical reflection and community-building activities among participants. Each program will have no more than 14 participants, including two student leaders, two members of faculty or staff who serve as learning partners and up to 10 students.

Since the programs are close to campus, there will be no cost to participants, and registration is still open.

Anderson said that the hope is that students are introduced to how these issues are impacting the surrounding communities, and through this introduction to community partners, find a way to continue making an impact beyond their Alternative Break experience.

“This is such a great way to get off campus, and really make a difference,” Anderson said.

Students can register for Alternative Breaks here. This year’s programs are:

The Education Gap and Education Accessibility

Community partner: CityGate Dream Center

Location: Burlington

The education gap is a major form of systematic oppression – as poverty, identity-based inequality, and red lining affect students’ ability to get a quality K-12 education, but most importantly, a stable path to getting a college degree or alternative career-readiness program. This program will focus on supporting high school students for life after high school, using professional development tools to assist them in applying for college or a job, exploring trade school or community college opportunities, and gaining confidence in interacting with the professional world.

Racial Justice and Civil Rights

Community partner: National Conference for Community and Justice, Triad chapter

Location: Greensboro

Greensboro’s history as a catalyst of the civil rights movement in the 1960s presents a unique opportunity to explore the roots and evolution of local civil rights. Spend spring break diving deep into the history of civil rights in Greensboro up to modern events and injustices through a combination of education and service work. We plan to volunteer and learn from multiple local organizations that utilize community building to address racism, and participate in educational opportunities.

A New Future: Immigration and Refugee Resettlement (in partnership with Elon Hillel)

Community partner: The Center for New North Carolinians

Location: Greensboro

This program will focus on learning and assisting immigrants and refugees settling in the United States. We will reflect on our nation’s past and our histories as immigrants.

Interfaith and the Environment: Interconnections of Climate, Health, and Agriculture (in partnership with the Truitt Center)

Community partners: Way of Belonging (Hillsborough), N.C. Interfaith Power & Light, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle (Raleigh)

Location: Burlington and Raleigh

Explore relationships between religious traditions and the environment, including interconnections between climate justice, public health, and agriculture. In this Alternative Break, you will also have the opportunity to engage in service with different religious communities.

Housing and Home Repair

Community partner: Habitat for Humanity of Orange County

Location: Chapel Hill

Join in meaningful service by supporting home building to make an impact on the lives on individuals pursuing home ownership through Habitat for Humanity.