Plans for the upcoming Alternative Breaks were discussed Tuesday, Sept. 24 in the Student Union at California Lutheran University.
The meeting introduced the new locations the Cal Lutheran Community Service Center will be operating in during winter break and spring break this school year. Interested students can choose between Asheville, North Carolina for winter break, and Solola, Guatemala for spring break. The cost of attending will be $445 for winter and $1,600 for spring.
Alternative Breaks, a program run by the Community Service Center, is an opportunity for students who want to help those in need in a different community.
Alma Rosa Rios, a senior at Cal Lutheran, was part of the Alternative Break spring trip last year in Yauco, Puerto Rico.
“I think because I am Latina, that it was such a flavorable experience – that’s the only way I could describe it. It was very cultural, the music was very lively, the people were very lively. It was like a blend between Mexico and the States…So it was very cool interacting with everybody,” Rios said.
Rios said her experience of meeting new people that she had never crossed paths with before changed her perspective of who she could relate to. She said students create bonds when they spend time recognizing the differences in other people’s cultures and lifestyles.
Rios said she helped a family fix their house after Hurricane Maria, a category five hurricane that struck Puerto Rico in September 2017.
“This was one of the houses that didn’t get the help from FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency], so we went ahead and fixed the roof, we painted inside of the house and we basically helped a family fix their house,” Rios said.
Madeline Liberti, coordinator for community service, said she is dedicated to lowering the cost of the trips through university funding and fundraising.
According to Liberti, Alternative Breaks runs on a budget produced by the Community Service Center and Student Life, along with students attending the trip. The majority of the trip fees go toward funding tools necessary for the project itself, while the rest of the funds cover the transportation to and from the airport, airfare, lodging, food and cultural excursions.
“Scholarship funding is coming from all the money raised from Giving Day last year, and will sustain the scholarship funding for a good while. Student Life and Community Service Center also put in some of our own funding in order to make it as reasonable as possible for students,” Liberti said.
In past years, Alternative Breaks received funding from Associated Students of California Lutheran University, but in an unusual veto last year, former ASCLU President Nick Steinwender vetoed the allocation to the program, calling it “volunteer tourism.”
Jocelyn Martinez, a senior at Cal Lutheran, is hoping to be part of the spring break trip. She said she hopes to “impact, interact and engage in a personal level” during this trip.
Applications for Alternative Breaks are due Oct. 28 for general applications and Oct. 10 for student trip leaders.