Getting out of one’s comfort zone isn’t always easy. In fact, it’s one of the harder things to do in life. However, personal growth has been linked to breaking down the barriers that are put up when opportunities seem overwhelming or scary.
The alternative break club on campus does just that. Traveling to new places, exploring different cultures, and forming new relationships within the community at first can bring some nerves, but it almost always pays off.
“The reason that alternative break trips were designed was for it to be an emerging experience,” explained Charlene Elvers, adviser of the alternative break club. “It is really designed for students to take a significant amount of time and immerse themself into learning about another community or social justice issue.”
The alternative break club offers different trips during school vacations to Springfield students who are interested in community service and social justice. Each event is facilitated by a student trip leader who plans and coordinates activities for the specific service trip, which is usually centered around one main social justice initiative.
The trips usually run during spring break in March, but in the past others have been offered in January and May.
Most recently, the club is focusing on always having a local trip that stays in the city of Springfield, so students can have the opportunity to learn more about the place they call home for four years. For Executive board member Kyla Boyns, the Springfield trip has been one of her favorites.
“You don’t just go and do service. You’re completing service but also learning about the community that you are a part of, which is something I really love about the experience. It’s not like you go for a week, do whatever, and then you’re done. I have learned so much about Springfield through the club in general,” said Boyns.
The pandemic has halted the amount of air travel and flights, so this year the club is working on offering more trips that are within driving distance from the college, with the theme of environmental justice. The club hopes to offer service trips in different parts of the country soon, but with the pandemic still in full swing, the timeline for those trips is up in the air at the moment.
Some favorite trips from alternative break club members include the Together Campaign in Guatemala from 2015, the Breaking Boundaries San Diego Trip from 2017, and the Youth Empowerment trip to Haiti in 2017. Many students from these trips spoke about how the experience was a “wake up call”, as it was really the first time they broke out of their privileged bubble.
“When I went to Guatemala my freshman year it was a wake up call. It was the first time I left the country and my first time seeing a third world country,” said Devon Rivard, a student who visited Guatemala with the alternative break club. “I fell in love with the people there and how they radiate positive energy and friendliness even through the odds against them.”
Applications for this year’s trips will be coming out towards the beginning of next semester. For more information about joining the club and the application process, contact Charlene Elvers by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.