The Civic and Community Engagement Center (CCEC) has experienced a huge amount of growth in recent years, which has led to a record number of Alternate Spring Break opportunities this year.
There will be seven trips offered this spring, including three new trips, New Orleans, Louisiana; Cajola, Guatemala; and Cabarete in the Dominican Republic. Altogether, there are three international and four domestic locations. Last spring, only five total trips were offered, two of which were international.
Alternative Spring Break is a chance for teams of college students to travel abroad either domestically or internationally to perform community service to improve social or economic conditions in the given location. Most trips take place from March 16-23.
Last year’s programs drew a huge applicant pool and were very successful.
Sophomore Heather Landfield went on last year’s trip to Rutland, Massachusetts. as a freshman.
“It enabled me to experience living in a place different than I am used to and I had the chance to see how people in other cultures live,” Landfield said. “It is a very enriching experience that you don’t get many chances to participate in.”
Because Alternate Spring Break has been so popular in previous years, the CCEC is very excited about the three new locations offered this year. The trip to Cajola, Guatemala was offered in the past and has been regenerated for students to work with a local nonprofit, Grupo Cajola. The other two trips resulted from the efforts of faculty and staff here at Ramapo.
“A group of faculty and staff visited the site in the Dominican Republic this summer and after a tremendous experience, we will be bringing up to 15 people to work with the Dream Project focusing on quality K-12 education,” said Brandon Martin, a graduate assistant for the CCEC.
Student and junior service learning coordinator for the CCEC, Audrey Zabohonski, is organizing the trip to New Orleans. Because of student interest with the location, she researched and planned service projects with lowernine.org, an organization dedicated to restoring the area in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth ward.
Based on the number of interested students this year, it appears that the selection process will prove to be very competitive.
“Since I began working at CCEC at the start of the year, interest in Alternative Spring Break has been increasing daily. Adding trips to the Dominican Republic and New Orleans has really increased student interest,” said sophomore Elle Alfaro, a CCEC employee. “We have already received a plethora of applications and have spoken to many students to explore their options.”
Chris Kipkoech, a senior, plans to apply for Alternate Spring Break and is very excited about the new locations being offered.
“It’s my last year at Ramapo and I want to end it off on a great note by doing something that had a positive impact on the community down there,” Kipkoech said. “I love the feeling of being able to help out those in need.”
There is a growing number of students looking to get involved in community service on and off-campus, and many have turned to the CCEC for opportunities. This contributed largely to the recent growth in the CCEC and the new opportunities.
“The reason why Ramapo has been able to increase the number of Alt [Spring] Break trips is due to the formation of the Civic and Community Engagement Center where we have combined all civic engagement initiatives under the Center for Student Involvement,” Martin said. “Focusing all efforts under one location has allowed for all programs to expand so that more students can be a part than in any previous time before.
“On campus efforts, programs and outreach has made the office visible on campus and more students are learning about our efforts and resources which is why applications for alternative break have increased, as well as the number of trips we are able to support,” Martin said.
There will be an Alternative Spring Break Festival hosted by the CCEC on Monday, October 29 from 12-4 p.m. in Friends Hall. Students interested in applying for an Alternate Spring Break program should go to the CCEC, located in SC-213. Applications are posted on OrgSync and will be available until Friday, November 9.