The Alternative Breaks program sent 60 SVSU students to different states starting Feb. 29.
The student-ran organization divided the students into six groups of 10 people, each group traveling to a different location across the 50 states.
One group of students traveled to Grantville, Pennsylvania and worked with the Capital Area Therapeutic Riding Association to assist those with special needs and disabilities with different types of therapy that are considered non-traditional.
Some students went east to Georgetown, Delaware and worked with another nonprofit, the Sussex County Habitat for Humanity to help provide shelter for the homeless.
Another group traveled to Gainesville, Georgia to promote education and encourage literacy to the youth of the area. These 10 students worked with another nonprofit, the Sisu Integrated Early Learning, to make that happen.
Two groups traveled to Tennessee, one group working in Memphis and the other in Nashville. The latter worked with Mending Hearts Incorporated to help women suffering from drug addiction as well as mental health issues, a growing concern in the United States.
The group that in Memphis worked with a non-profit called Hope House Memphis to educate the youth on HIV and AIDS.
The final group of students went to St. Louis, Missouri and worked with LifeWise STL, another nonprofit, to fight against financial strife by discussing some of society’s obstacles such as racism.
The diverse experiences each group of students got to enjoy has created numerous stories they all came back to tell.
Justin Weller, a science major junior, traveled to Nashville for his alternative break, and he encourages students to consider participating in alternative breaks in the future.
“ … Students receive first-hand experience with the communities affected by social injustices,” he said. “By actively interacting with and serving the communities affected by these social injustices, students are able to change their perspectives and become educated about what actually happens to communities during periods of social injustice.”
Weller also said that this experience will contribute greatly to his future career.
“I want to become a civil rights attorney working with underrepresented communities that are affected by social-injustices, and interacting with the children affected by HIV/AIDS instilled in me a sense of empathy in action.”
First-year students can participate in the alternative breaks program, and Devin Neumann, a biology freshman, did just that. He said that hearing what other people had to say about what they were doing was an integral aspect of the trip.
“The most memorable part of my experience was our reflections at the end of each day, where we got to hear everyone’s thoughts about the work we were doing.”