Spring break for most students means days at the beach, sleeping around the clock and escaping from the realities of school. However, some of our students decided to forgo the relaxation and spend break helping others around the world using the school’s Alternative Break program.
The College of Charleston’s Center for Civic engagement offers the Alternative Break program for each school break: Spring, Fall, Winter and Maymester. Each alternative break is a trip, international or domestic, based around a service theme. There are several choices for trips offered, giving students plenty of opportunities to find a cause about which they feel strongly.
Mamiko Higa, sophomore and Public Health and Chemistry double major, traveled to Washington D.C. to work with the “Healthcare Access and Policy” alternative break. She and her group learned about the activism necessary to increase healthcare access by conversing with local institutions like La Clinica del Pueblo, Mary’s Center and Alexandria Neighborhood Health Service. They learned, first hand, about the hardships in poverty stricken areas, and provided service to members of this D.C. community.
“It was such an eye opening opportunity to interact with so many different kinds of people and to hear their stories,” Higa said. “I went into the experience expecting to learn about how the Affordable Care Act impacts individuals on a personal level. However, I ended learning more about the strong, inseparable connection between health care access and poverty, and how those may be the things we should be focusing on.”
Rachel Taylor, sophomore, and Sarah Roza, co-led their peers in the “Conserving Crops in Costa Rica” trip. This trip centered around learning sustainable farming practices applicable back in the United States “[One of the highlights was] getting to live on a farm for a week and learn about all the different ways they lived completely sustainably and off of the land,” Taylor said. “I think everyone was pretty surprised by how much food we could eat right off the trees and plants all around us.”
“I loved the idea of doing something totally different for a break,” Taylor continued. “Especially something with environmental service because I think a lot of people, myself included, forget about service to the environment… [I wanted to lead this trip because] I wanted to inspire others to love service and help them grow and learn from that love.”