Colorado State University Students Do Spring Break, Alternative Style

Colorado State University’s Office of SLiCE is offering 15 alternative breaks for students this spring, a spring break sure to create lasting memories for the student volunteers. Applications are now open.

The Alternative Break program provides a complete immersion experience into different cultural, environmental and socioeconomic communities across the globe. Host communities provide educational experiences focused on the current social and cultural issues facing the area in exchange for volunteer services provided by students.

The program is designed to encourage students to become active citizens who make the community a priority when making life choices. While the participating communities benefit from tangible work completed, the students gain a broader understanding of the world around them and the everyday issues others can face.

"I’ve been on two alternative breaks, and I’ve had my life completely changed twice,” said Lindsey Earl, a senior sociology major. “After coming back from the trip you have a whole new perspective on the world and how the world is constructed."

Alternative Spring Break 2014 destinations include:

In Achiote, Panama, participants will work with a local community center focusing on environmental conservation and ecotourism. The group will experience the culture and customs of Panama while assisting a local organization with construction and environmental projects.

Partnering with the International Rescue Committee, the trip to Atlanta, focuses on providing opportunities for refugees to thrive in America. Each year, thousands of refugees are invited by the U.S. government to seek safety and freedom, and the IRC helps them rebuild their lives.

In Boulder Creek, Calif., participants serve as cabin counselors to a group of fifth and sixth grade students from schools all over Northern California from a variety of home backgrounds. As counselors, alternative breakers will participate in nature hikes, camp songs and activities and outdoor youth education.

Participants in the Catalina, Calif., trip stay in Catalina Island Camps and participate in numerous environmental projects including trail building and repair, environmental education projects and landscaping.

The Kansas City, Mo., trip focuses on urban youth, poverty and issues of race in the United States. The group works with Operation Breakthrough, a nonprofit organization that helps children who are living in poverty develop to their fullest potential by providing them a safe, loving and educational environment.
In Los Angeles, participants will work with the Downtown Women’s Center and the Asian Pacific Women’s Center to sort donations, assist with beautification projects and support the organizations in their mission to empowering women.

The New Orleans trip features volunteer work with the St. Bernard Project helping support disaster relief by rebuilding homes in an area hard hit by the hurricanes in 2005. As reconstruction continues, St. Bernard Parish is in constant need of volunteers to complete the volume of building projects that they are sponsoring. Volunteers will be doing construction work, enjoying the New Orleans culture and working with other volunteer groups from around the nation.

Partnering with the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the first and oldest organization in New York City committed to the fight against AIDS, the trip to New York City centers on assisting those living with HIV and AIDS. Participants on this trip can anticipate volunteering as a client library assistant, kitchen and pantry assistant and interacting with the diverse GMHC clients.

Students traveling to Phoenix will volunteer with HALO Animal Rescue and learn about animal welfare. HALO — Helping Animals Live On — is a no-kill shelter that specializes in providing refuge to pets that might otherwise be killed at other shelters.

The Pine Ridge Reservation trip in Pine Ridge, S.D., revolves around building sustainability and cross-cultural connections with the Lakota tribe of South Dakota. Participants will learn how renewable energy can directly help entire communities across the Dakota region.

The Portland, Ore., trip focuses on environmental justice and food insecurity. Participants will work with progressive and sustainable organizations as well as have the opportunity to serve in community gardens, farmer’s markets and public outreach.

The Taos, N.M., alternative break is a new trip that focuses on "off-the-grid" living, sustainability, and American Indian issues and culture. Participants will visit the Earthship Biotecture firm and help in the completion of a completely sustainable house made from recycled materials.

Beginning with the Student Homeless Challenge Project, students will get the chance to redefine their perspective on the meaning of the word “home.” After 72 hours of the homeless challenge, participants will volunteer with the Community for Creative Non-Violence, the nation’s largest transitional homeless shelter, along with other agencies in Washington, D.C., that support individuals experiencing homelessness. By partnering with various agencies in the DC area, students will gain a better awareness of the many facets of homelessness in America.

There also are two alternative breaks in Denver:

One trip will have participants interacting with different individuals, organizations and shelters around the Denver metropolitan area to grasp a better understanding of poverty in Colorado. This trip allows participants to gain a perspective of what it is like to live in poverty as well as challenge each individual to spend the trip with minimal resources themselves.

The second trip focuses on sustainability. Participants will focus on sustainable business responsibility at New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins and explore the importance of local food as a sustainable practice at Denver Urban Gardens and the SAME Cafe in Denver. Participants will evaluate sustainability from many angles to get a big picture at how living practices affect Americans and the environment.

To learn more about Alternative Breaks, visit