Alternative Spring Break offers a different approach to the week off

As spring break looms, students looking to book a vacation may forget they have an alternative.

Alternative Spring Break, a volunteer program, is an opportunity for students to spend the week off making a difference across the world.

“The experience is so different and so much more rewarding than sitting around,” senior Teresa Uczekaj said. “You get so much more out of working with people, you broaden your horizons, and you learn leadership skills that you will remember for the rest of your life.”

Uczekaj, the co-president of GW’s International Alternative Spring Break, will travel with a group to Oaxaca, Mexico, her second Alternative Spring Break trip. The project hasn’t been determined, but last year’s group of GW students helped build a plumbing system for a local school.

Similar programs offered through the Office of Community Service also include passport-optional trips across the country in New Mexico, Kansas, New Orleans, West Virginia and Georgia.

“The thing about Alternative Spring Break is that it’s really life-changing. I would say it was a turning point in my college career, meeting people, being able to work hard and seeing how much people appreciate what we’re doing is really amazing,” Uczekaj said.

The programs are still accepting applications, though some are capped at a maximum number of students. Uczekaj said the Mexico trip is open to whoever wants to apply, and vigorous fundraising has allowed the organization to make the trip free for all volunteers.

“Yeah, it’s fun to have a vacation where you relax and unwind, but you get more out of giving to people and working in a culture that’s not your own,” Uczekaj said. “I’ve noticed you get to know people a lot better when you’re working than when you’re drinking or on the beach with them.”

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