As the spring semester moves along and students become increasingly mired in schoolwork, one cannot help but look forward to the iconic “spring break.” During the week of March 14, many Front Range Community College students will pack their bags and head to a warm beach or a cold ski resort to release the steam built up from weeks of hard work. Yet some students will choose to forgo the resorts, beaches and relaxation for something more rewarding: an alternative spring break.
Rather than simply waste time for the sake of wasting it, alternative spring breakers participate in events that benefit themselves and/or communities.
Alex Liethen, a Front Range Community College student, has facilitated multiple alternative spring breaks in Colorado. He noticed that alternative spring breakers walk away from the experience with smiles and pride.
A typical alternative spring break combines travel, education, and service.
“It is a very different learning environment from the typical lecture setting,” Liethen said, “The experience allowed students to work with their hands creating something and they learn by doing.” An experiential, educational, and hands on experience is much more engaging than an objective and material experience.
When Liethen began facilitating alternative spring breaks, he worked for a non-profit wildlife sanctuary called “Mission: Wolf.” “We had groups of 8-10 students from universities such as Rice and Northwestern come spend a week at the sanctuary where we would facilitate a whole bunch of service projects – essentially experiential education – and teach them about wolf biology and ecology along with animal communication techniques,” Liethen explained.
Liethen described the typical alternative spring breaker as motivated and eager to learn. Typically, the types of students who were interested in this kind of spring break were highly motivated, hard-working young adults who were very eager to help out and learn.
According to Liethen, “Students chose the alternative break over a vacation because they wanted to give back and volunteer (which also looks good for school and future work), they wanted to have a unique experience, they wanted to get away from a party atmosphere and develop more meaningful relationships with their peers and they wanted to get out and explore the world and have experiences that are a break from the norm.”
Various companies and universities host alternative breaks, but interested students can also facilitate their own. Seeking volunteer opportunities is easy, and depending on the activity, can help students in pursuit of their college majors. Alternative spring breakers can have fun, learn and add valuable experience to their resumes, all while on spring break.
“Go into the experience with an open mind and try to dispel any feelings of fear-of-missing-out,” Liethen advised students considering alternative spring breaks.
Alternative spring breaks are for adventurous and driven students. Liethen sums it up perfectly: “[They] are geared towards students who wanted to have a more meaningful spring break that included service work.”
If you have any questions about alternative spring breaks or would like to organize your own, you can do so through www.alternativebreaks.org, or contact Alex Liethen at Alex.Liethen@frontrange.edu.
Written by Christopher Kemp
Photo from Break Away Facebook Page