A different kind of spring break

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When spring break is mentioned, more often than not the top destinations involve all-inclusive beach resorts, but colleges have been leading the charge in bucking that trend as of late.

Although the origins of alternative spring break reach back into the 1980s, it has been increasing in popularity over the last handful of years and allows college students to spend their week off making a difference in a community that otherwise wouldn’t have gotten the attention.

“Instead of cutting loose on the beach, students can cut brush to maintain hiking trails. Rather than hitting the slopes, they can hit nails to improve housing alongside homeowners,” said a release from Habitat for Humanity. “These alternative spring breaks allow students to serve communities in a meaningful way. They can travel, meet new people, and feel the satisfaction that comes from working to improve communities — and lives.”

On a more local level at the University of Texas at Austin, the program has seen a resurgence since 2014 when 22 students traveled down to New Orleans to lend a helping hand to Rebuilding Hope in New Orleans (RHIN), Habitat for Humanity, the Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal as well as built a community garden.

This year, the Alternative Breaks at the Longhorn Center for Community Engagement will see even more students give back not only around Texas but also abroad.

“During the 2020 Alternative Breaks session, participants will travel to work closely with the communities of: South Texas (McAllen/Brownsville); Houston, TX; Jackson, MS and Puerto Rico,” it says in a “current trips” release. “Participants will engage with the community that they are visiting by working with community leaders on service projects to learn more about the culture of the city they are visiting along with any social justice issues it faces. AB participants will also get the opportunity to learn of and enjoy the rich culture of the cities they are visiting and have the opportunity to network and bond with new friends.”

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