Working on any project with others can be a lot of work. Working on a project in another country with people you may have never met before requires patience, trust and the willingness to learn something new.
One group of students began their journey by strengthening their bonds as a team with icebreakers and marshmallow tower building.
The Keene State College website describes Alternative Break as a group of “domestic and international service-based trips during Keene State College’s winter, spring and summer breaks as well as on select weekends throughout the academic year” where students “take part in service projects that address unmet community needs, gain awareness of critical social issues, enhance their individual growth and prepare for lives of active citizenship.”
For $1,000, a team of KSC students will be heading off to Ireland this March to visit a fully sustainable community an hour north of Dublin. These students will learn about sustainable agriculture and permaculture while volunteering.
Senior construction safety major Eliza Joseph co-leading the trip. Joseph has been on four Alternative Break trips while in college, but said this is the first time she has ever lead a group.
“I’m really excited,” Joseph said. “It’s a lot more responsibility, but there is a lot more creativity too, so I’m thriving with that.”
For the group’s first meeting, Joseph and her co-leader Danielle Acerno decided to spend the night doing icebreakers and playing fun activities to get to know each other (such as marshmallow tower building, guess-the-fun-fact and a challenge seen on TikTok) to bring the group together.
“The main objective was to get everyone comfortable with each other and to get people laughing. AB is really personal and takes a lot of trust with each other so that’s what we were trying to establish.”
Joseph said the main goal is to have students have faith in their team members and feel safe.
Experiencing this for the first time is KSC sophomore environmental studies major Peyton Engborg.
Engborg said she applied to participate in the trip after transferring to the college and wanting to meet new people while doing something she feels passionate about.
“I find it can be harder to meet people as a sophomore coming in. My orientation leaders talked to me about Alternative Break and everyone I’ve talked to that’s done it said only positive things,” she said.
Engborg said the activities and the sticky Fruit Roll-Ups challenge made the meeting fun.
The group will meet more leading up to the trip. These meetings will become more information-heavy and centered on helping students renew their passports as time gets closer.
Joseph said, “To me, it’s the best part of Keene State. You get to go on adventures that are completely immersive and make you feel really important and like you make a difference.”
She added that the experience not only benefits the community they volunteer for but also the students who go on these trips and the people they inspire by sharing their stories.
Angelique Inchierca can be contacted at