Learning Outcomes and Program Foundations
Students who participate in an Alternative Break experience will:
- Understand and practice cultural competency through immersion with a diverse demographic
- Have a greater understanding of self and values in the context of community service
- Improve interpersonal skills
- Develop and practice leadership
- Explore the concepts of community, social responsibility, and active citizenship
To ensure meaningful and memorable trip experiences for all participants and leaders, the Alternative Break Program at Keene State College adheres to the Eight Components of a Quality Alternative Break as described by Break Away®:
Strong Direct Service: Programs provide opportunities for participants to engage directly with community members through hands on projects and activities. Domestic and international trips are centered on a critical social issue that affects the host community(s). Participants and leaders engage in an average of 25-30 hours of service per 7 trip days in addition to education and reflection activities. Service activities are based upon needs identified by the host community and the relevant social issue.
Full Engagement: Alternative breaks provide participants with an opportunity to live in line with community, program, or trip specific values. Programs should create opportunities for individuals to consider ways of aligning values and actions with regard to choices about the alternative break experience. Examples include: accommodations, food, team selection, technology, transportation, packing, and spending money. One clear example of Full Engagement is the Alcohol & Drug-Free component inherent within alternative breaks. Strong programs develop and communicate philosophies and corresponding practices around how participants will approach these topics during an alternative break.
Diversity: The Alternative Break program is designed to be inclusive and accessible for all students–leaders recruit for, design, implement, and evaluate their trip with this end in mind. Myriad trip topics and service projects, and affordability, are intentionally incorporated into the program to promote participation representative of the rich diversity present in Keene State College’s student body. Additionally, reflection provides a space to engage in dialogue that furthers understanding about issues of diversity and social justice relevant to social issues and service work in communities. This deepened awareness enables students to do more responsible, sustainable and impactful community work.
Orientation: Participants and leaders engage in regular pre-trip discussions designed to introduce the mission and values of community partners, explore the trip itinerary and other logistics, and get to know one another.
Education: Pre-trip activities and common readings introduce participants and leaders to the social issue at the heart of the trip, provide context for the issue as it relates to the host community, and open discussion regarding personal connections to the issue.
Training: Participants and leaders receive adequate training in skills necessary to carry out service activities during the trip. Training may take place both prior to departure, and on-site. Leaders receive additional training to prepare them for the experience of facilitating a positive trip experience for peer participants. Ideally, participants gain life-long skills that provide them with opportunities to engage in their community upon return from the trip.
Reflection: Leaders will engage the entire team (and sometimes members of the community) in reflection discussions and activities every day. Reflection helps the team think critically about their experiences, evaluate the role they play in addressing social issues, and consider ways to move toward a life of active citizenship. Time is set aside for this to take place individually and as a group, and occurs both organically and through structured activities.
Reorientation: Back on campus, leaders and participants have the opportunity to share their experiences with others, engage a wider audience in service and continued education on social issues, and make informed choices that benefit the local and global community.