The Center for Leadership and Service is going international.
Ten students will be acepted to travel overseas to Trelawny, Jamaica to work on projects relating to sustainable agriculture and youth outreach.
Led by Victoria Knight, senior in microbiology, and Luke Bell, senior in English literature and secondary education, the alternative break trip to Jamaica is the first to go beyond national borders in many years. Founded in 1993, there has been only one other international break trip in university history.
A program veteran herself, Knight was inspired to donate another break to serve, this time as a leader.
"I think a lot of people are kind of wary about giving up their break, but honestly it's one of the best experiences I've ever done. I led one last year and I went on one my freshman year," Knight said. "Even though you're doing work all day it's fun because you're with this group of people who are so passionate about service, so passionate about just helping in whatever community their in."
Providing the perfect opportunity for foreign immersion, Bell is enthusiastic to not only work in Trelawny, but to understand its culture and specific issues.
"We'll be able to get a little taste of that community and why those issues exist in that community and empower the existing organizations and give them a little bit of manpower," Bell said.
Quoting the Volunteer Creed, Knight explained the unofficial motto of the alternative break program, "One that beareth a torch shadoweth oneself to give light to others."
Bell agreed, promising a humbling, life-changing experience.
"It will alter your mindset forever," Bell said. "People are always talking about being a global citizen. It's ever more popular today. Live locally, but think globally."
While alternative break trips are held during both Fall and Spring Break, each period contains multiple groups on separate trips. Each service trip has a different "theme," which can can be food security, environmental conservation, underprivileged children and urban poverty. Usually categorized by the type of volunteer work instead of location, the emphasis is placed on doing meaningful work, not seeking an exotic vacation abroad.
Knight served on a "hunger and homelessness" break trip, where she worked at several shelters, a food bank and a campus food recycling facility.
"Each break trip has their own organizations that they work with and that they've been in contact with over the summer, and some of the other break trips will be following up that communication over the fall," Bell said. "But what we try to do at the Center for Leadership and Service is not to fix issues, but to empower the existing people in the locations."Knight agreed, saying the service is a "collaborative effort."
"We want it to be an effort on both parts and we want it to be able to build lasting relationships in the community," Knight said.
In addition, the relationships between student volunteers grow in equal measure. For Knight, the break trip was a permanent bonding experience.
"Everyone who has come back from a trip has always said it was the best thing ever. Everyone felt like family," she said. "My group last year, they were crying at the end of it. Whenever I see them on campus, we all hug each other."
With nine themes over the course of two break periods, choices are abundant for potential applicants. Interest sessions for hopeful volunteers will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the University Center, room 220.
Applications for the Fall Break and international Spring Break trips are due Sept. 2.
"It's open to everyone," Knight said. "We want it to be a very diverse group. We want it to be some younger students, some older students, some people who haven't been out of the country.
"And that goes for all the break trips (too). It's open for any student who wants to donate their break in service to a specific theme."
For more information about the Alternative Break Program, upcoming break trip themes and applications, click here.
In the Tuesday, Aug. 27 edition of The Daily Beacon, the article titled "Alternative trip to venture overseas" stated that "Ten students have been accepted to travel overseas..." when in fact, no students have been selected for the trip.
The Center for Leadership and Service is currently accepting student applications for the program. Applications will be accepted until Sept. 2. An interest session will be held today in the University Center room 220 at 6 p.m.