The first half of the semester is over and students are back from Fall Break. Fall Break, a four-day long event, happened during the seventh week of the term and marked when classes held midterm exams. While many students went home during Fall Break, others went on an Alternative Break.
Alternative Break is an opportunity to do volunteer work and travel during Fall, Winter, and Spring Breaks and offer different service opportunities each time. This year, students went to Lansing, Howell and Beulah, as well as several other places.
Elizabeth Gallagher (‘21) went on the Alternative Break to Beulah. “We went to see a Rwandan pastor there and hear him preach,” she said. “It was a really fun experience.”
While Fall 2018 Alternative Breaks were confined to central Michigan with a theme of “Keeping it in the Mitten,” several trips a year go to another state, offering quick travel opportunities for students wishing to do service outside of Michigan. “Last year, I went to Maryland to a border collie rescue shelter,” said Gallagher.
Despite the fact that Alternative Breaks are offered, many students choose to not go on one, preferring instead to go home or stay on campus and study for any midterm exams, though many exams occur before break, calling into question the necessity of a fall break.
Gallagher argued Fall Break is needed on campus. “I think we definitely need to keep Fall Break, we need it because everyone is burnt out at this point in the semester and we need a break,” said Gallagher. “Also, if we didn’t have Fall Break, there’d be less opportunities to go on an Alternative Break.”
As a participant on multiple Alternative Breaks, Gallagher said that she would like more diversified and an increased amount of Alternative Breaks. “It would be nice to see an Alternative Break that includes international travel. It would also be nice to see some mission-style trips offered,” said Gallagher.
By going out into other communities, students got to experience the local culture as well as learn about social issues, such as homelessness or food instability. “When I was in Maryland last year, I learned a lot about what it takes to run a rescue shelter for dogs, as well as a lot about border collies themselves,” said Gallagher.
Winter Break options for Alternative Breaks are open; offerings include Indiana, Tennessee, and Florida. Students can submit an application on the Alma College website.