Alternative Service Breaks allow students to undergo new service learning experiences

UNT students on an Alternative Service Break tripThe Alternative Service Break program is quickly approaching its 10th year. The program gives students a chance to immerse themselves in community service and create an experience that will bring them to the forefront of social awareness.

Students are selected for week-long service opportunities in cities including, Dallas, New Orleans and Nashville.

The deadline for students to apply for winter trips is Oct. 3 and the last day to apply for Spring Break trips is Nov. 2.

Megan Szarzynski, a human resource management senior who now serves as one of the executive directors for the program, has attended two trips in her time at UNT. Her first trip was during the spring of 2017 when she visited Springfield, Mo., where she worked with Champion Athletes of the Ozarks, an organization that works with people who have disabilities.

“I have learned so many valuable skills during my trips that have shaped me into the student leader I am today,” Szarzynski says. “Skills including communication, interpersonal skills, organization, and most importantly, how to be a true servant leader.”

During her second trip the following year, she worked at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. She served as a site leader for that trip, which introduced her to a new experience entirely.

“As a site leader you have to continually make sure that your participants are making the most out of their experiences, too,” she says.

UNT student on an Alternative Service Break tripMerchandising senior Ijaley Williams attended an ASB trip in spring of 2018 and says her experience showed her that some people can be going through more than you could ever imagine.

“This trip showed me that no matter how bad I think my life may be, there are complete strangers that may be living a harder life,” Williams says. “I learned to become more appreciative and to not judge.”

During her trip, she worked to rebuild homes for women and children who were affected by domestic violence.

Alternative Service Breaks allow students not only to give back to different communities, but also make long lasting friendships. The program also allows those who have a passion for service to make a difference.

“You may be busy serving and building friendships the whole trip, but it's a breath of fresh air and so relieving knowing you are giving your time and energy to a great cause,” Szarzynski says.