I am the graduate coordinator for Alternative Breaks here at the University of Maryland. We send about 300 students every year to DC, other US cities, and a few international locations for a week or more to learn about different social issues like immigration, HIV/AIDS, environmental conservation, sustainable development, the justice system, homelessness and poverty, and a number of others. The students on these trips learn in a hands-on manner while engaging in service, with the hope that they will gain a deeper understanding of a pressing issue, and bring that new knowledge back with them to the Maryland community. We try to work in a asset-based, community directed manner in which we are partners with the communities, not simply voluntourists. The trips are also completely student led and planned; each trip has two trip leaders who spend an entire year planning the trips, and engaging in weekly trainings about service, social justice, and leadership.
I've seen first hand over the past year and a half what kind of difference these trips make. Students come back engaged, passionate, and for a number of them, completely changed. This program is basically our way to get students out of the classroom, and engaged with issues of social justice.
This year I'm the staff advisor on the the Environmental Conservation trip to the Bahamas. The trip leaders have planned a great trip, partnering with the College of the Bahamas and the Bahamas National Trust to engage in a number of conservation activities, and learn about how tourism has affected a small island community just off the tip of Florida. Because the trip is 10 days, and involves a flight, as well as 10 days of lodging, food and transportation, the trip costs $1300/person. I'm lucky enough to have my way paid for, but the students have to come up with the money themselves. Many of the families of the students don't have the means to pay for these trips, so students are actively fundraising and soliciting donations.
I would love to help out my trip in any way I can, and your donations will go to a great cause, helping shape young minds to care about and actively engage the world around them. Any amount would be not only awesome, but also tax deductible, since the AB program is 501(c)(3) organization. Please consider donating, every cent goes directly to the trip, and is disbursed equally among all the participants. Thanks!