Alternative Spring Break: an introduction to Service Learning

March 10, 2015  |   Found in Editorial // Volunteering

Spring break. Those two words have a myriad of different meanings to a student population. Perhaps, to you, that’s your opportunity to get away and experience some fun in the sun. Maybe it’s a chance to catch up on some much deserved sleep. Or, if you are like me, it was an opportunity to do those readings that have been piling up since the start of term. All of these are perfectly good uses of a student’s time on our mid-semester vacation, but they weren’t quite the answer 18 University of Calgary undergraduate students where looking for when they decided to take part in the 16th annual Alternative Spring Break project.

In three intensive days, these students managed to effect change in our community, working with eight different organizations that combat homelessness and poverty, engage in discussion on sexual health while supporting HIV Community Link, helping support families and children facing domestic violence and familial stresses, and supporting local arts initiatives.

Alternative Spring Break is focused on Service Learning, that is to say, the volunteers learned and developed throughout their involvement by participating in thoughtful and organized service that meets the needs of the Calgary community. Start to finish, Alternative Spring Break volunteers went through the whole process, from awareness (where we begin to learn about the needs of the community) to reflection (where we can see what work has been done, and have gained a better understanding of our community’s needs, and a better understanding of self). Along the way, though, important connections were built and friendships made. These students were reminded that through involvement we can build connections that create an inclusive community for all students.

Volunteers Services offers 10 flexible programs for students to get involved on and off of campus, gaining valuable experience and having fun while giving back to the community!


Brock is in his fourth and final year of his BSc at the U of C. He is one of the two Volunteer Coordinators for the Into the Streets and Alternative Spring Break Programs through Volunteer Services.