Traveling to see a change – Mizzou Alternative Breaks

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” Ghandi.

Mizzou Students just finished up their annual spring break. For some that meant a week with the family, time on the beach with friends or just a week to relax and take a break from a heavy course load. But for around 1,000 Mizzou students, spring break was dedicated to a week of service.

Mizzou Alternative Breaks is a student-run and student-led organization that sends students on service trips for spring, winter and thanksgiving breaks, as well as weekend and international trips.

The University YMCA started the alternative breaks program in 1991 and offered only three spring trips. In the late 1990s, the Department of Student Life adopted alternative breaks and the program was run out of the Center for Leadership and Service. This change initiated growth for MAB, and by 2013 it was the fourth largest in the nation, and as of last year become the second largest.

The alternative spring breaks, in particular, are designed for students to gain a wider perspective of the world while immersed in a life-changing week of service for people and communities around the world.

“I always knew I had a deep rooted passion for service, but MAB has enhanced my passion and showed me the real value of serving the communities around us and all around the world,” Baylee Cummins, Mizzou Alternative Breaks spring site leader, said.

Cummins said that being a part of MAB has molded her overall Mizzou experience.

“Being a part of this program is a way for students to be brought together from all over campus, we offer a lot of diversity,” said Charles Gutierrez, MAB executive director.

Alternative breaks are a chance for students to view life from a perspective different from their own. .

The program is designed for students to actively learn and get involved in issues occurring across the nation as well as help people in need. In the application process, students have the opportunity to preference trip themes such as animals, environment, disabilities, education, homelessness, health, adaptive sports, habitat for humanity and more. Alternative breakers also get to work with students from across campus they might not otherwise meet.

“Students have the opportunity to build relationships and make close friends,” Gutierrez said. “That’s a key factor to our program.”

With 140 trips planned for this year, Mizzou Alternative breaks remains a growing organization on campus.

“We hope that students involved will be able to gain a wider perspective of life in general,” Gutierrez said.

Maggie Glidewell

About the Author Maggie Glidewell

I got my first glimpse of agriculture looking through the ears of my American Quarter Horse. I quickly learned there is much more to this industry than crops and cows. My name is Maggie Glidewell, no it’s not short for Margaret, and I am currently a senior majoring in agricultural education and leadership with emphasis areas in marketing and journalism. I hope to take the skills that I have learned at Mizzou and pursue a career in informal education and youth development, working to build up and shape the minds of the future of our industry.