Spring Break, Reinvented

Please Note: Narration starts 12 seconds into the presentation

THE IDEA: Spring break isn’t always about hedonism. In fact, a Rutgers program is reimagining spring break—and winter break, too—as a week with a focus on social responsibility, leadership, and altruism.

THE PROGRAM: Participants in the “alternative breaks” program take a six-week, noncredit course exploring a particular community issue in the United States and then travel during spring or winter break for a volunteer community service experience.

HELPING COMMUNITIES: Since 2006, Rutgers students have traveled to West Virginia, New Orleans, and Phoenix under the program. Rutgers teams up with nonprofits in those locations, such as the Southern Appalachian Labor School and Habitat for Humanity, to help organize community service projects. Participants in the alternative breaks program have built houses, worked with schoolchildren, and otherwise assisted communities in need.

THIS SPRING: For the first time, two alternative break trips have been organized for this spring break. Rutgers students will be returning to West Virginia to help underserved communities in Appalachia and also traveling to Washington, D.C., to work in soup kitchens and homeless shelters.

RAVE REVIEWS: Students rave about the program. “Through the program, they realize there are so many people out there in this country who are struggling, and they come to appreciate the lives they have,” says Karen Ardizzone, associate director of student involvement and community service initiatives at Rutgers University Student Life. “They also realize that they can start to bring some sort of change, that helping and volunteering does make a difference—both in your life and the lives of those that you’re helping.” Or, as senior Neema Roshania says, “By the end of a trip, we all realize that whatever we got out of it is much, much more than we were ever able to give.”

KUDOS: The alternative breaks program was recently cited when the university was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, a federal recognition for a school’s commitment to service-learning and civic engagement. Rutgers was honored for reaching out to communities in need—in particular, for the student work during alternative breaks.

LEARN MORE: Visit the Alternative Breaks Program.

ABOUT THIS SLIDESHOW: This slideshow was produced with the cooperation of Karen Ardizzone of Rutgers University Student Life, who provided the images for the slideshow. The slideshow is narrated by Neema Roshania, a senior at Rutgers-New Brunswick. Thanks to the following for appearing in the slideshow: Wakeem Abraham, Sara Afayee, Sumit Agarwal, Marissa Amos, Emannuel Anim-Danso, Karen Ardizzone, Tynisha Beard, Vikram Bhargava, Brian Brown, Puneet Butter, Anthony Castillo, Giuseppe Cespedes, Andrew Chiromeras, Katie Davis, Kaylan Deriso, Eleanor Doong, Kalindi Doshi, Natasha Featherstone, Jennifer Good, Dana Inez, Matt Ingrassia, Amy Johnson, Janki Kapadia, Parisa Kharazi, Katherine Kuzma-Beck, Nick Martucci, Jasimere McMillan, Kevin McQueeney, Dan Moore, Vithya Murugan, Kira O'Brien, La'Nyia Odoms, Josh Ontell, Hailey Rassas, Troy Riley, Carly Roehrich, Neema Roshania, David Ruffner, Ankit Shah, Joanna Slusarz, Kirthika Sutharsanam, Adrienne Vogt, Lisa White.