The independent news website of The Kent Stater & TV2


The independent news website of The Kent Stater & TV2


The independent news website of The Kent Stater & TV2


Follow KentWired on Instagram
Today’s Events

The world of alternative spring breaks

Courtesy of Craig Berger
Students involved in Puerto Rico for the “Supporting Community Resilience” trip, who participated in efforts to respond to recent natural disasters there.

The alternative spring break program allows students to take advantage of their free time help change a community. 

The Alternative Spring Break is an educational program in which groups of students, led by student and faculty leaders, travel to regional, national and international locations during their spring break. 

The program started in 2006 when a large group of students traveled to Biloxi, Mississippi, to assist with relief efforts in response to Hurricane Katrina. 

Since students and faculty have participated in these spring break excursions, the organization has grown into fall and winter break experiences. 

Groups have traveled to Youngstown, Ohio, New York City, Puerto Rico and many other locations. 

The trips focus on a challenge the community they are visiting faces. This allows the students to partake in direct service, cultural exploration and change-making knowledge. 

Craig Berger, associate director of Community Engaged Learning, says faculty and students also devote part of their time to exploring local cultural landmarks that help to understand what it means to be a part of that community. 

Students can explore different dimensions of how a group may respond to an issue in their community and witness what is being done in response. 

A hidden treasure in these experiences are the relationships between the students who attend the trips. 

Anthony Giancola, junior applied engineering student, attended the Kermit, West Virginia, trip in Spring of 2023. 

“I really didn’t know anyone going into it, and I made lifelong friends through it.” he said. “Every student should get out in the world and see what there is to offer, and this is a great way of doing that.” 

The group stayed at the Big Laurel Learning Center. While there, the group learned about sustainability and unnecessary consumption. The group also worked with local summer camp kids through games, guidance and hands-on activities to teach them about sustainability. 

Chris Lukas, assistant director of outdoor adventure for Recreation and Wellness Services, also attended the Kermit, West Virginia, trip in Spring of 2023. 

Lukas was a faculty trip leader and saw firsthand how the trips affect students.  

“Volunteering is a very constructive use of your time because you gain so much experience and knowledge,” he said. “I saw students get out of their comfort zone and come out of this as a new person.” 

A study by the National Library of Medicine found that persistent academic progress is more common among those who have participated in volunteer work. 

“A lot of lessons are learned on these trips, and students can take these lessons and apply them at Kent.” Lukas says. 

Berger says that these trips are an immersive experience. 

“Unlike any singular program we hold on campus,” he said. “These trips allow us to minimize the distractions of our day-to-day lives in Kent because we are traveling to a different community and gaining new experiences.” 

In the past, over 100 students have participated annually. After the pandemic, the number of students who participated went down. Last year, around 60 people attended an Alternative Spring Break trip. 

There are three trips planned for this upcoming spring break. 

The first trip, a one-day experience titled “Strengthening Ohio Urban Communities,” will take place in Youngstown, Ohio, on March 26. 

The second trip, “The Environment, Fossil Fuels, and Appalachian communities,” will occur in Kermit, West Virginia, from March 25 to March 29. 

The third trip will focus on Black maternal health and infant mortality in Washington, D.C., from March 24 to March 29. 

Registration for these trips opens on Nov. 28. Students can review trip information and claim their spots on the trip roster through the Alternative Spring Break website

Information sessions will also be hosted for students with questions early in the spring semester. The information for these sessions will be posted on the Community Engaged Learning Instagram

The mission behind these trips is for students to develop new relationships, help out a community in need, identify career opportunities and create valuable networking opportunities. 

“I honestly don’t think students know exactly what they’re going to experience until they get to the other side of it, and then I just think they’re kind of blown away.” Berger says.

Chloe Harich is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *