Making fall break a transformational trip

By Kim Urquhart | Emory Report | Oct. 24, 2012

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An autumn hike was among the activities for students on Alternative Fall Break in Chattanooga, Tenn. that included volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and the Chattanooga Food Bank. Photo courtesy of Volunteer Emory.

About 200 Emory students spent their fall break in service to communities around the Southeast.

Alternative Fall Break trips took students to Charlotte, N.C. to serve the elderly; to Chattanooga, Tenn. to tackle homelessness and learn about sustainable food production; to Memphis, Tenn. to assist the Memphis Botanical Gardens with evasive vegetation removal and park preservation; to Charleston, S.C. to combat domestic violence; and even to their own backyard to learn about incarceration and social justice issues in Atlanta.

Volunteer Emory leads the student service trips each fall and spring break as an alternative to typical trips or visits home.

"Giving up their break to be in the service of others or to immerse themselves into a community in which they have little to no expertise is a very transformational experience for many students," says Natasha Hopkins, assistant director of the Office of Student Leadership & Service.

Volunteer Emory expanded the service area opportunities for Alternative Fall Break this year.

"Domestic violence, incarceration, and elderly communities are social justice areas that are major issues in our communities and have very strong implications to society as a whole," explains Hopkins.

"Volunteer Emory is always seeking to create new opportunities to inform our students' perspectives" and worked with student organizers who had a personal level of interest or passion in these issues and wanted to inform the perspectives of others, she adds.

Volunteer Emory is currently seeking trip leaders for Alternative Spring Break on March 9-16, 2013.  Applications to participate in Alternative Spring Break will be available Jan.14 and are due Jan. 27, 2013.