Have you ever been curious as to how you can make a difference in your community without traveling out of the country? Have you wondered about ways in which you can help others through local and national acts of kindness and service? Well, that is why today I will be introducing you all to the Bennion Center Alternative Breaks! Fall and Spring Alternative Breaks are designed to provide you with the opportunity to help a community or organization through experiential learning. It all starts with teams of students who identify staff partners and choose to work in cities either locally or throughout the Western United States. Then they select a wide variety of community projects that they believe fits the purpose and mission of the Bennion Center and correlates with social, education, and environmental justice needs.
With an array of service project trips to choose from we offer several that will fit your interests. This year, students had the option of participating in the following trips: environmentally conscious students who are interested in learning more about the best practices of environmental stewardship and exploring recycling initiatives will be practicing environmentalism in an urban setting in Portland Oregon. In Seattle, Washington, students will be focusing on the intersectionality of homelessness conflated with identities and will be actively engaged in service and dialogue surrounding the continuum of care. Most importantly, students will learn about how hunger and poverty exacerbate the issue of homelessness in our society.
Additional trips were immigration in San Diego, California where students will be exploring the identities of immigration and healthcare and wildlife habitat conservation in Lima, Montana. This Fall Break, I am going on the Identity and Environmental Exploration trip in San Rafael Swell, Utah for first-generation students. Our community partner is SUWA (Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance) and consists of Utah individuals who actively seek to preserve Utah’s remaining desert wild lands. Not only does SUWA preserve the wilderness at the heart of the Colorado Plateau, but it also builds the support for initiatives to protect lands and most importantly, extends the leadership opportunity to participate in the conservation movement.
I am without a doubt, certain that any student who goes on a Fall Alternative Break trip will have the opportunity to have a transformational experience through serving their community. I am excited to learn more about protecting our public lands in Utah, but also becoming more knowledgeable as to how I can take action as a college student to protect these lands. I am looking forward to exploring Utah’s desert and reflecting on my own personal narrative, in hopes that I can learn to apply the practice of environmentalism in my daily life and reflect on my collegiate journey with other first-generation students.
Editor's Note: Unfortunately, Melissa got sick and had to miss her Alt Break adventure. You can bet she'll be signing up for a Spring Break trip once she's feeling better. Applications are open now.