FAQ for Alternative Breaks WHAT ARE ALTERNATIVE BREAKS What are by dontyouknowme


									                               FAQ for Alternative Breaks

What are Alternative Breaks? Alternative Breaks are a student run service board under Volunteer
USF. It is based in the Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement at the University of South Florida.
Alternative Breaks sponsors one week to two week long community service trips and weekend trips
during academic breaks addressing different social issues to areas within the United States and

How did Alternative Breaks originate? Alternative Breaks began in the 1990’s at Vanderbilt
University. A group of college students later formed Break Away, the Alternative Breaks Connection.
Alternative Breaks began at USF in 2001 with 1 trip. Since then it has grown to Alternative Weekend
trips, Alternative Summer Breaks, International trips, Freedom Ride (Civil Rights tour) and
Alternative Spring Break. In 2008, there were 18 spring break trips, 2 weekend trips, 2 international
trips, 4 Alternative Summer Breaks and the Freedom Ride. Alternative Breaks are led by student site
leaders and a graduate advisor, who lead a team of approximately ten students to immerse themselves
in service that lasts more than a week, but leads to a lifetime of change.

When are the trips? Alternative Break trips occur during weekends, spring break and summer break.
This year Alternative Breaks is sending out 25 spring break trips, including the Freedom Ride and
summer international break and multiple weekend trips in November and February.

When are this year’s trips taking place?

       Weekend trips will be held: Multiple weekend trips will be held in November and February
       Spring Break and Freedom Ride trips will be held: March 14-21
       Summer International trips will be held: May 11-24

Will I miss days of class? For most breaks, you will not miss any class. At times, weekend trips may
leave on Thursday evening or Friday morning. Spring Break trips occur only during the break. There
will be an International break during Spring Break and depending upon flights, it may leave the
Friday before Spring Break. The International Break in the summer will occur in May and will be 2
weeks, so you would miss classes in Summer A or C.

Where do these trips go? Trips travel to many different cities within the United States and
internationally. Some past locations trips have gone are New Orleans, Boston, New York, Chicago,
Philadelphia, Atlanta, Washington D.C. and countries like Costa Rica.

Does ASB return to some of the same sites year after year, or do they pick brand new sites every
year? One of the goals of ASB is to create relationships between the University of South Florida and
the communities in which its students volunteer. A number of students choose to return to their ASB
site for a summer after their initial visit, and others choose to participate in ASB trips to the same
locations year after year. Some of the sites that we have returned to yearly include:
         God’s Love We Deliver, New York City
         Community for Creative Non-Violence, Washington DC
         Wesley Community Centers, Atlanta, GA
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       Tara Hall Home for Boys, Georgetown, South Carolina

And many more. We usually return to more than half of the same organizations each year

What do these trips do? While service varies for each trip issue, all trips provide students with
experiences they cannot find on the university campus. Trips are coordinated to work with specific
volunteer organizations related to their trip issue. Trips have volunteered in health facilities, planted
trees, rebuilt homes, constructed playgrounds, and most importantly, built relationships with those
whom they are helping. In addition to active service, participants are involved in educating their
community and themselves about their trip issue.

May I request a particular site? You will rank your interests on the participant application. Please
be advised that the site leaders make the final decision of placement. Candidate placement preference
is extremely helpful and will be considered along with other factors in the acceptance process, such as
the applicants’ essays, interviews. .

How will we get there? All trips travel in 12-passenger vans, 55 passenger charter buses or by
airplane. International trips will fly. Each trip has several drivers. We encourage participants who
are 21 with good driving records to volunteer as part of the driving team. Volunteering as a driver,
however, is optional, and no one is forced to drive.

How can I get involved? There are four ways to participate:

   •   As a Participant: Apply to be part of a group that goes on a community service trip during an
       academic break. Participants will be placed on a specific trip with 7-8 other participants and
       2 Site Leaders and advisor. Once placed on a trip, participants will attend weekly/biweekly
       meetings with their trip to educate themselves about their issue, establish fundraisers, and
       participate in local service projects to prepare for their trip.
   •   As a Site Leader: Two Site Leaders are placed on a specific trip and coordinate trip logistics,
       site development, participant recruitment, and program planning. The role of a Site Leader is
       a time intensive and extremely rewarding endeavor. Site Leaders commit to the yearlong
       development of the program and participate in a training program. Site Leader Applications
       will be available on-line at appropriate times.
   •   As an Advisor: Graduate students and staff are placed regionally as advisors of trips.
       Advisors commit to yearlong development and assist in overall break facilitation including
       budgeting and problem-solving.
   •   As an Alternative Breaks Executive Board Member: Board members are students who oversee
       the entire Alternative Break Program. He or she makes a yearlong commitment to the program
       and undergo an extensive training. He or she is responsible for recruitment and training of
       Site Leaders and assist leaders with the resources necessary for them to do their jobs.
       Applications will be available on-line at the appropriate times.

How do I become an ASB site leader? Every year, when ASB participants return from their spring
trips, ASB accepts applications and conducts interviews for those wishing to become site leaders (in
March/April). Most important is a strong interest in community service, leadership skills and
                               FAQ for Alternative Breaks
enthusiasm for Alternative Breaks. If you have participated in an alternative break in the past and did
not apply in March, please stop by the Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement to see if there are
site leader openings.

What are the time commitments for being apart of alternative breaks? For site leaders: you will
have to go through a site leader retreat and weekly training to help ensure you are capable and ready
to lead your group

For spring break participants: you are responsible for attending the pep rally in November, your bi-
weekly meetings which are created by your site leader and the reflection ceremony which is held after
you return from a spring break trip.

For advisors: you are responsible for attending monthly trainings throughout the year.

For international participants: you are responsible for attending bi-weekly meetings with your site
leader and additional trainings as provided to prepare you for your experience.

For weekend participants: an abbreviated meeting schedule will be created so you can meet your
team and understand the upcoming experience.

Can I participate in more than one trip? As a participant, you are allowed to participate in ONE trip
during spring or summer break (Freedom Ride, International, Spring Break or Summer Break). You
may participate in weekend breaks in addition to spring or summer. As a site leader, you are
allowed to site lead only one trip per year (excluding weekend trips). Due to the high demand for
participation in Alternative Breaks, we are conscious of offering this opportunity to as many people
as possible.

How many people can go on the trips? Two Site Leaders, 1 Advisor (this person may assist with
multiple trips in the same city) AND 7-13 Participants

What is ASB looking for in applicants? Who is an ideal ASB candidate? There really is no perfect
ideal ASB candidate. In fact, many site leaders pick people with various different qualities and
interests to ensure a diverse trip. Most important though are a general enthusiasm and willingness to
work hard coupled with a strong interest in community service and the world around you. Applicants
will be selected based upon their essays. Please take this opportunity to share about yourself and your
desire to connect with other students through community service.

Do I have to have past travel experience to participate in ASB? No. In fact, many ASB participants
are first time travelers.

Can I still apply if I have never done community service? Of course you can. ASB accepts people
with all ranges of service experience.

If I am under 18 years old and a college student, do I need my parent’s permission to participate?
Yes, if you are under 18 the ASB application will need to be signed by a guardian, confirming their
                                 FAQ for Alternative Breaks
Can I lead or participate in a trip after I graduate? No. You must be a USF student or staff
(undergraduate or graduate) to participate.

Can I go on a trip after I graduate? No (This does not apply to any International Breaks students who
would be walking before they leave, by technicality; you are still classified at a student).

Can non-USF students go? No. You must be an enrolled USF student at the Tampa campus to

If USF-Tampa is NOT my main campus, can I participate? NO. Your home campus MUST be
Tampa to participate.

As an international student, can I go on an Alternative Break Trip? Yes, international students are
encouraged to participate in the program.

Can students with disabilities go on Alternative Breaks? The Alternative Breaks program makes
every effort to ensure students with disabilities can participate in Alternative Break programs. Please
be aware that we cannot guarantee that facilities or support services will be available at each location
abroad in the same range and quality as on the USF campus. We cannot alter architecture,
transportation, or laws in other counties. We can, however, encourage students to meet with one of
the directors in the Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement to see which trips would be best to
apply for.

Can my friend and I go on a trip together? Diversity is a really important part of the Alternative
Breaks experience. When placing students on trips, we work very hard to create the largest amount of
diversity within each group. Although it might sound like a good idea for you and your friend to go on
the same trip, part of the experience of Alternative Breaks is meeting and working with new people.
Applicants will be selected based on their essays by the site leaders. We cannot guarantee students
attending the same trip.

I am unsure if I want to apply for ASB, can I talk to someone in person about ASB? Of course! Any
of the Alternative Spring Break Site Leaders and Executive Board members would be more than happy
to sit down with you in person to talk about ASB. Please refer to the Contact us section for contact
information. Also, there are hundreds of past participants who have been on an ASB trip - ask around.
We also will have multiple information sessions throughout October to hear more about the actual
alternative break experiences.

What if I don't get placed on one of the trips that I really, really, really wanted to go on? When you
are offered a trip, you are able to tell the site leaders that you would rather be on the waiting list for a
particular trip. You can also say in your application that you are only interested in certain trips,
please realize that this limits your opportunity to participate.

If you choose to be on a waiting list or if you have been placed on the waiting list because all of the
trips are full – please note that participants must make their deposit on December 5, 2008. Anyone
who does not pay the deposit will lose their spot on the waiting list and we will begin contacting
students December 8 for openings. Plans change, and trip rosters are often not finalized for a
considerable time, so there is a good chance that you could end up going on the trip you had your
                                FAQ for Alternative Breaks
heart set on. However, one of the core values of ASB is learning from a new experience, so maybe
being placed on a trip besides your first choice trip is a blessing in disguise.

How much do the trips cost? What does the cost cover? All budgets for the breaks are determined by
the cost of travel, lodging and gas. The estimated price for domestic trips for the 2007-2008 school
year was $200-400 per person, however, rising gas costs may change this figure. The price for
international trips for the 2007-2008 school year was $1200 per person, which includes the cost of the
plane ticket. The price for the weekend trips for the 2007-2008 school year was $25 per person. The
cost covers housing, some meals, and transportation for the week of the trip (except for big cities
where participants and site leaders are responsible for paying for public transportation). There is
potential to lower trip costs due to successful fundraising. However, there will be additional cost such
as for meals, souvenirs and miscellaneous items.

Are there any fundraising opportunities? Yes, right after you have been selected for trip the site
leader will inform students about the different opportunities to raise money for the trip. There will be
various opportunities to fundraise leading up to the actual trip. In the past students have successfully
fundraised to assist with costs of their fees or to provide additional budget for the group on the trip.
Students have fundraised through letter writing campaigns, fundraising opportunities at Busch
Gardens and St. Pete Times Forum and through group planned projects by their individual team.

Is there financial aid or scholarships? While there are no scholarships available, we do offer a
financial aid clause. Through this clause, you can fundraise the money for your trip through various
fundraising opportunities set up by the office. However, you are responsible for the remaining balance
if you are unable to fundraise the entire amount of your trip.

When is the money due? A non-refundable $100 deposit for domestic trips/Freedom Ride and $200
for International trips for International is due December 5. Selected participants who do not pay the
fee on December 5 will forfeit their spot on the alternative break to a student on the waiting list. The
remainder of the fee is due January 30 for spring break trips and International trips will follow the
assigned payment plan for their summer trips..

If I decide that I do not want to participate in ASB after I turn in my deposit, can I get my money
back? Your $100 deposit is not refundable because it often costs money to switch names on plane
tickets and make other necessary changes to reservations.

If I have paid for my trip entirely and I decide that I no longer want to participate, can I be
completely refunded? Payments for alternative breaks are non-refundable. Since participants request
refunds at various times, we may be unable to refill positions. The fees for alternative breaks cover the
cost of transportation, lodging and other trip costs which have been pre-paid.

By deciding to participate in alternative breaks, you are making a commitment to your team and the
community you are serving. Only in cases of emergencies will it be considered to give a refund minus
the $100 deposit. Requests for refunds must be made in writing prior to the service trip.
                                FAQ for Alternative Breaks

Who will be leading the trips? For domestic trips, there will be two student site leaders and one
graduate advisor. For international trips, there will be one faculty/staff advisor and two site leaders.

How is the agenda planned for the trip? Your site leader will have an agenda with the times that you
will be volunteering for that whole week. He/she will keep in touch with the site and inform you on
everything that will be going on for that week. This agenda is created with the community partner,
lodging and the group.

How should I pack for ASB? Participants should pack light. It is recommenced that individuals take
no more than one bag and one backpack. You will be travelling with other students, so it’s imperative
that we make room for other participants. It is also imperative that you do not pack valuables for the
trip. Remember you will be staying at churches or on site with the organizations that you will serve.

Where will we be lodging once on ASB? Most trips will stay either at churches or on site with their
service organization. The only exception is the Freedom Ride which will be utilizing hotels as they will
be traveling during their break. All accommodations provide showers, and some provide cooking
facilities. Your site leader will be able to provide more details of your accommodations. Students
usually bring air mattresses to some of the facilities if they are not provided to sleep on.

What do I do if I get sick on my ASB trip? Every site leader and advisor is prepared to deal with
illnesses and emergencies that may happen on their trip. Each site leader will be carrying a first aid
kit with them and is trained to respond to emergencies. Also, each site leader is required to have a
plan for situations like sickness.

Do I need to have medical insurance to go on the trips? Yes you do need medical insurance, but if
you do not have private insurance, you can purchases traveler’s insurance for approximately $30
within a month of the trip you intend on going on. We require insurance for liability and in case of
emergencies, it will help later cut down on any cost.

Are these trips safe? Trips are established through organizations referred by Break Away. Since
many of these trips have had groups participate yearly, they know how to work well with groups of
volunteers and provide the most supervision.

Although these trips have been well-planned, often we are staying at churches or on-site for lodging.
Because of this students are strongly encouraged to not bring anything of value on the trips. Students
will receive contact information for the lodging and service site well in advance for any questions they
may have. Students are encouraged to protect their own safety by always being aware of the location
where they will be travelling.

Why are these trips “alternative”? These trips are drug and alcohol free, offering students an
alternative to the more “traditional” spring break. This experience allows students to be immersed in
environments that enable them to interact with diverse communities and understand complex social
                                FAQ for Alternative Breaks
Why are Alternative Breaks trips and events drug and alcohol free? To maintain positive and
inclusive group-dynamics, to promote safety and productivity, to be respectful towards USF and the
host site we are working with, and because you just do not need it if you are having a quality
Alternative Breaks experience! Students who violate the alcohol and drug free policy can be referred
to the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities.

If I am 21, can I drink on an Alternative Breaks trip? No, for the reasons listed above. You are
representing the University of South Florida through service and alcohol is not a positive

Is Alternative Breaks religiously affiliated? No, Alternative Breaks is not tied to a specific religion or
faith. We welcome USF students of all religions and beliefs. Some of the organizations where we
serve are religiously based, but they are also open to students of all faiths and beliefs. Please check
out the websites of the sites you are interested in to learn more about the organizations where we will
serve. Also, even if the group is staying at a church for their lodging. Students are not required to
participate in religious services.

Do I have to get shots or immunizations to participate in an International ASB? We base our travel
requirements on the recommendations of the CDC. Each country that we travel to will have different
required and optional immunizations. If there is a required vaccination in order to travel to a given
country you will be required to get this immunization, and this cost is not included in the cost of the
trip. You will receive all relevant information about required/optional immunizations from your site

Do I need to get a passport to participate in an International ASB? Yes, for American Citizens you
will need to apply or renew your passport. Some countries require that your passport not expire within
6 weeks of entering the country. The application process for acquiring a first time passport can be a
lengthy process; therefore we recommend that if you are selected for an International ASB you apply
immediately for your passport. For non-American citizens the requirements for VISAs are different for
each country and you will need to acquire the appropriate documentation to travel.

Will I be able to communicate with friends & family back home while I am abroad? Access to
phones / email are definitely more limited in many of the locations that we may travel for
International ASB, but this is part of the immersion experience. However, although we cannot
guarantee that you will have daily access, we do assure that participants will have access to phones &
possibly computers at points throughout the trip. International phone cards are typically easily
accessible for phone calls and internet programs such as Skype make international communication
quite convenient for travelers. All of these details will be spelled out based on your specific site by
your site leader prior to the trip, so you can inform your friends and family of how frequently they can
expect to hear from you.

Am I required to learn the language of the country that I am travelling to? No! While language
acquisition is definitely not required, it is highly encouraged that you make every effort to become
familiar with Language basics to help you get around and communicate with the community you will
be working. Throughout your group meetings prior to the trip your site leaders will most likely take
                               FAQ for Alternative Breaks
time to go over some basic language vocabulary as well. This is a great experience to pick up a new
language or refresh those language skills from High School.

Do I need travel insurance for this trip? It is recommended that you become familiar with what your
current insurance covers for international travel, in addition all International ASB participants are
required to purchase travel insurance through the USF Study Abroad office. The cost for this is
typically $31 for 2 weeks.

How can I learn more? Feel free to contact the any of the executive board
members (contact information provided on website). Alternatively, please
feel free to stop by the Canter for Leadership & Civic Engagement located in
the Marshall Student Center, Room 1300 or www.ctr.usf.edu/leadandserve
or (813) 974-5053

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