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Are Alt Breaks Actually Worth It?



We look forward to spring break every year. It’s the one thing that keeps you going when the cold weather rolls in first semester, and the reward for pulling a week’s worth of all-nighters during spring midterms, so the last thing you want to do is give up your blessed week of partying, bikinis, and sleeping past noon to do volunteer work in the freezing areas of the country.



But then, why do so many people do it?


You hear that service work is rewarding, that participating in any of these breaks is life-changing. And you don’t want to seem selfish, but can it really be better than drinking mimosas in a hot-tub or going down to Miami with five of your wildest friends? You work hard during the year, and you deserve to relax.


I’ve spent all four of my spring breaks like this, respectively: at my parents’ sick in bed, vacationing in the Carolinas, and doing one of the alternative breaks through Community Outreach. I can promise you that what volunteering lacks in nightclubs and one night stands, it more than makes up for in self-fulfillment, confidence and the genuinely warm feeling of doing outreach and service work.



And I know, I sound like every single one of your friends that came back from helping the homeless for a day and promised their life was totally revolutionized. Whether you believe them or not, you still maybe feel like you’re not the type of person who feels totally amazing doing unpaid labor for other people. Trust me, I understand. I am you.


I won’t lie to you: waking up around seven or eight every morning sucks. Being on your feet for twelve hours isn’t great either. Neither is spending a week straight stuck in close proximity with the same fifteen people.


That’s nothing to how it feels to know you’re making a difference, though. If you find a cause that really means something to you, alt breaks are a great way to do something concrete to help further your chosen mission. If you want a way to get more involved, this is the perfect place to start where you get both experience and an idea of what activism even looks like.


Believe me when I tell you how good volunteering feels. And if that doesn’t do the trick for you, it looks pretty great on a resume, too.


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