For many college students breaks mean spending a week on the beach or in a mountain condo, ignoring the outside world. They mean getting away from it all.
But for the participants in alternative breaks, sponsored by Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement, that week of rest becomes a week of helping and educating. Annually, more than 200 CSU students participate in SLiCEâ€™s program, which sends students to places like Panama or the plains of Africa.
Applications to be involved in alternative breaks must be turned in by Oct. 20 in the SLiCE office, located on the main level of the Lory Student Center.
â€œThe most rewarding part is the fact that you can see the help that youâ€™re doing,â€ said Audrey Moreno, a sophomore international studies major. â€œItâ€™s not just raising money and sending it somewhere. Itâ€™s hands-on work that you can see benefiting the people directly.â€
Students like Moreno who have volunteered for the program several times at CSU give the group a strong and consistent presence on campus.
During the 2010 fall break, students will visit New Orleans and surrounding areas to aid in the disaster relief efforts from Hurricane Katrina. Students will help build sustainable housing with the St. Bernard Project â€” a non-profit housing charity ÂÂâ€“â€“ and witness the Bayou Classic, an annual football game between Grambling State University and Southern University.
â€œThereâ€™s so much promise in rolling up your sleeves alongside strangers in a common task,â€ said Lindsay Dana, a senior Spanish major who takes great pride in knowing her work helps the environment and communities worldwide.Â
Dana is a group leader for the Panama trip, where in the past students have helped construct a museum and worked with local organizations on environmental projects.
The last time Moreno visited Panama, she helped a small town improve its eco-tourism while finding time to sightsee and experience the countryâ€™s culture.
â€œI know that a lot of freshmen donâ€™t think that they can do it or that theyâ€™re too young,â€ said Moreno, who considers the support offered within SLiCE to be unmatched for students.
Danaâ€™s fondest memory of an alternative break came from her trip to Florida, in which she volunteered at Give Kids the World Village, in Kissimmee, which offers a haven for terminally ill children and their families.
â€œMy own brother battled childhood cancer and was granted a similar wish through Make-A-Wish,â€ said Dana. â€œSo to get to play around with these kids and just let them be kids without the hospital, without the worries â€“â€“ to be part of their wish ÂÂâ€“â€“ was definitely a full-circle moment for me that nothing has beaten so far.â€
SLiCE also offers alternatives for students who find the travel costs too expensive through local trips such working on an organic farm in Loveland.
And while some students may be skeptical to participate because of costs, the program offers scholarships to students who apply, and each trip holds fundraising events throughout the year to lower the cost of the trip.
For more information on SLiCE alternative breaks, visit their website at http://www.slce.colostate.edu/.
Staff writer Sean Bucher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More about the breaks
SLiCE alternative breaks offer students multiple choices to help around the world over fall, winter and spring breaks.
More than 200 students take the trips each year, which occur locally as well.
Alternative Spring Break Deadline: Oct. 20, 2010.
For more information: Visit www.slce.colostate.edu