Applications for Alternative Breaks were opened for Keene State College students to apply last week.

Spots are limited, but there are ten week-long and two weekend trips happening throughout the 2017-2018 school year.

Photo file contributed by Mason Prata

Photo file contributed by Mason Prata

Alternative Break is a program that focuses on getting students out on community service driven trips. Each trip focuses on a different social justice issue and gives students the chance to help people in different communities in the country and even internationally. Applications can be found and submitted online on the alternative break page on the KSC website. Most of the destinations are kept secret, however, there is a description of what the group will be doing during each trip so students can pick trips based off of their interests on social justice issues and not where they will be going.

The trips this year will focus on youth development, hunger and homelessness, food security and sustainable living, pediatric healthcare, animal rights, community building, sustainable living and addiction and homelessness.

KSC senior Casey Sault will be leading the hunger and homelessness trip. Sault said, “In the morning times, half of our day will be spent doing food packaging and working in a soup kitchen and the other half of our day will be education, so it will be learning about people who have experienced hunger and homelessness and how it’s affecting that city.”

The Alternative Break program is more than just going away to do community service on spring break; for many students, it really changes their lives.

KSC senior Monica Doorley is leading a trip this year. She started going on alternative break trips when she was a sophomore and she said those experiences really had a profound impact on her.

“I went to Kentucky the first year and I learned a lot about the coal mining industry and about environmental justice issues in general and how it was such a big picture type of thing and it made me change my way of life,” said Doorley. “I was just way more aware of my impact on the world and my environment.”

Trips range anywhere from $100 to $900, which includes lodging and food for the entire stay. The Coordinator of Community Service at KSC Jessica Gagne Cloutier said, “I think [the program] opens up so many opportunities for learning for our students that align with our values, whether that be preparing students for a rapidly changing world.”

She said it also gives students that chance to help others while getting to visit new places and meet new people. She said she even sees students continue to have relationships with people they met on trips years ago.

Gagne Cloutier said, “Helping our students be more sensitive to diversity and able to work with people who are different from themselves, confident and bold enough to try new foods and new tasks and it aligns with our goals of sustainability and I think it really gives students critical thinking skills and helping them solve some of the toughest challenges that we’re facing. It works on a lot of levels.”

Alyssa Salerno can be contacted at asalerno@kscequinox.com