Alternative Breaks return in spring 2018

Although spring break 2018 is months away, many college students prepare and plan for that week well in advance. Some may want to take a trip somewhere, while others might consider volunteer work.  

Alternative Breaks, a program organized by JUMP, offers Sonoma State University students a chance to combine the two.  It provides students the opportunity to take part in community service while learning about sustainable living and other environmental issues.

At a Wednesday meeting in the Student Center, Alternative Breaks Director Ali Hanson presented important information and dates to students interested in the program.

Hanson said this is her first year being the director of Alternative Breaks. She has previously gone on trips to Portland and Las Vegas as a participant.

“Our mission is to provide Sonoma State students with volunteer opportunities,” Hanson said.

Alternative Breaks helps students learn about specific social issues through their service, according to Hanson. In her presentation, she described how direct service, full engagement, reflection, diversity and social justice are all part of what makes an Alternative Break.

“You can find your passion within Alternative Breaks,” Hanson said. “We really focus on diversity and social justice.”

Volunteer opportunities at previous trips included beach clean-up and sitting with the elderly. While some of these trips have touched on a wider variety of social justice systems, Hanson said she hopes students will come back from the spring 2018 Alternative Breaks with the desire to improve Sonoma County.

“We value working with communities, we focus on relationship building, and you are able to find your little family within Sonoma State students [through Alternative Breaks],” Hanson said.

The spring 2018 week-long trip costs $200, which covers housing, transportation and food. Scholarships and payment plans are also available with this program if need be.

According to Hanson, Alternate Breaks pick around 11 students for the trip, and may put other applicants on a waitlist.

Students can apply for the trip through OrgSync, a private network that connects students to on-campus organizations, programs, and departments. They will accept applications until 4 p.m. on Nov. 28. After filling out an application, students must attend an orientation day on Nov. 28, 29 or 30.

Not only is the Alternative Breaks program a student-led experience focused on service, but students can also use it to find service opportunities before and after their trips. Weekly meetings for the program are held from 6–8 p.m. on Mondays during the spring semester. Participants can also receive one unit of school credit per semester.

Sonoma State student Grace Martin has participated in Alternative Breaks for two years.

 “It’s a daunting experience and sounds wild, but it’s so worth it,” Martin said. “You make so many friends, you have so many memories, and you get to make a big difference.”

For more information, contact Ali Hanson at