Alternative Break 2016

by Katie Yeaton

It’s crazy to think spring break was two weeks ago.  It’s crazy to think two weeks ago at this time I parking in downtown San Francisco as our group ventured out on our second to last day of service.  And it’s crazy for me to think I was a this passionate group’s co-staff site leader.

Alternative Break, or alt break as we call it here at UNLV, takes place during our March break and first week of May break.  Coming to UNLV, I will admit alt breaks was something in the back of my mind I wanted to get involved with, but I did not know if I would have the time to devote to it.  Well, fate had plans in store for me.  Last semester I ran into my future co-staff leader who told me all about alt spring break and how the pre-departure meetings would work with my schedule.  He then encouraged me to apply as a staff site leader, rather than a graduate student participant.  Exhilarated, I took the chance, applied, and was accepted as a co-San Francisco staff site leader.  Looking back at this initial step I am so happy I took the chance to reach beyond my G.A. department and get more involved with our Office of Student Engagement and Diversity.

To give you a quick snapshot of our week of service and community building, here is my quick top ten list of events from our trip:
  1. Volunteering at Project Homeless Connect
  2. Volunteering at Project Open Hand
  3. Volunteering at Glide in the Tenderloin
  4. Volunteering at San Francisco and Marin Food Bank
  5. Volunteering at Lava Mae
  6. Volunteering at the Waller Center off of Haight Street
  7. Nightly reflection time (whole group)
  8. Nightly reflection time (student staff site leaders)
  9. Accidently driving through the toll on the Golden Gate Bridge
  10. Street Taco on Haight Street with our whole group of 14 people

This year at UNLV, alt breaks was run full-force by the student site leaders and I could not be more proud of the accomplishments our two spirit site leaders.  Even though they had a thorough plan they learned how to become flexible and adapt to changes.  As a staff site leader, my role was to act as a guide, supervisor, and advisor; roles that were made much easier because of the passion and forward-planning of our student site leaders.  I cannot express how proud I am of these two outgoing student site leaders, and if they are reading this right now, hi, you rock.

In closing, I would like to share a little about my takeaways from this entire experience.  Of course, every school runs alternative breaks differently with varying levels of student responsibility.  I commend our student staff site leaders on a year’s worth of hard work and planning, and I appreciate our school’s hands-off approach.  I saw students grow personally and rely more heavily on their problem solving skills to resolve an issue.  In return, my student site leaders and team helped me learn the values of self-care and simplicity.  I am always running around from one event to the next and with our alt break being go-go-go I was able to see the importance of downtime at the beginning or end of the day.  Taking time to reflect and live in the moment is key to self-authorship.

Thank you to my fellow co-staff leader for keeping me grounded, thank you to our wonderful student site leaders for orchestrating this experience, thank you to our entire team for teaching me about life, and thank you to UNLV for this opportunity.  If you get the chance to participate in an alt break trip at your school, take it!

Student Affairs - the First Years

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