Applications are now open for a variety of opportunities within the Alternative Breaks (AB) program at Illinois State. AB is a student organization supported by the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE).
Students who take part in AB are given opportunities to lead and take part in local, national, and global service trips to help communities in need. Some of these trips include building homes for the homeless, feeding hungry families, tutoring young children, and so much more.
Each AB trip involves a different location, community partner, social issue, and volunteer project. They all have different needs and requirements for the volunteer work.
“There are many opportunities within AB locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally,” said Anna Stewart, an early childhood education major and member of the AB Executive Board. “We offer a variety of trip options, so there is something for everyone. Joining AB is a great way to get involved and make a positive difference in your community!”
“Our trips take place over all the academic breaks—winter, spring, and summer,” said Annie Weaver, assistant director of cocurricular programs at CCE. “We travel both internationally and within the United States, so it’s a great way to see and explore new places.
“A highlight of our program is what we call the AB magic. You’re going to engage in a full day of service work each day and, in the evening, spend time in reflection with your fellow participants, led by a student. That reflection time really helps you bond with other students and grow personally.”
Trip prices are listed on the CCE website, and all costs include meals, housing, and transportation. Partial fee waivers are also available.
Students interested in joining a trip should look at the trips coming up this winter on the AB website. This year, there are three options—two international trips and one domestic. Students will head to Ecuador, Guyana, and Memphis, Tennessee. All trips begin on December 12 and finish before Christmas.
In Ecuador, students will help restore the natural habitat in the Galapagos Islands. In Guyana the focus will be building a play area for the community. In Memphis, volunteers will be working on several social issues, including food insecurity and homelessness.
Additional trips will take place over spring and summer breaks. Applications open October 1, and spots are limited, so it is important to sign up fast.
There will be four spring break trips this year, including the first-ever international spring break trip for AB. AB is also partnering with the Honors Program for one of the trips, so it is a great way for Honors students to get involved with AB.
The summer break trip this year will take place in May and students will travel to Kenya.
Trip leaders are needed for all spring break trips, so students interested in working on leadership skills should consider applying for the position. The application can be found on the website.
“I have gotten so much leadership experience from this club,” Stewart said. “My first year I went to Camp Summit and was a participant but still had opportunities within our project to lead in areas throughout the trip. After that trip, my leader reached out and asked if I would be interested in becoming a trip leader for the next year, and so I did.
“That next year I went back to Camp Summit as a trip leader and had even more opportunities to work with participants and the community partner as a leader. It was a great learning experience, and I am so glad that I accepted that role.”
AB is a great way for students to make an impact in the world while also working on leadership and communication skills. Anyone interested in joining should go to the AB website.