What do you do with your breaks?

There is only one time of year when you wake up on a Monday morning and it is already Wednesday…. That’s right, Warp Week at Alma College. Warp week means that we only have three days of classes then we get a five-day weekend for fall break. Alma is one of the few schools left in the state that gets a fall break, and students may wonder why.

Traditionally, fall break was meant to be a time following midterms to go home and regroup your thoughts for the rest of the semester. However, now that midterms don’t exist for every class or sometimes take place a week earlier or week later than Warp Week, fall break is now based purely on tradition.

Fall break means a lot of different things for different people. Some students will take the time to go home, relax and get away for a few days. Others will stay on campus and enjoy having two extra days class-free. A third option for fall break (and every break) is doing an Alternative Break.

Alma College students on an Alternative Break in Delaware focused on affordable housing.

What is an Alternative Break, you ask? Alternative Breaks are trips that go off-campus during fall, winter, or spring break to do some form of service. Some of these service trips are faith-based, others aren’t. Sometimes they head west to Grand Rapids or south down to Detroit. Other times, students board a plane and head out to Louisiana, Mississippi or the East Coast.

“Not every student who goes spends their entire fall break at home. Fall Alternative Breaks offer short-term opportunities to learn and serve in Michigan. This fall, students will be raking leaves in Alma, cooking and serving food at the Open Door program in Detroit as well as having dialogue with different faith communities in Grand Rapids and learning how they respond to community issues,” says Sallie Scheide, Assistant Director of Alma’s Responsible Leadership Institute.

Alma College students on an Alternative Break in South Bend, Ind., focused on urban poverty.

If an Alternative Break sounds like something you might be interested in, there are still a few days left to apply for a winter break trip. The trips this December include: Affordable Housing in Elizabethtown, Ky;. Disaster Relief in New Jersey; Urban Poverty in South Bend, Ind.; Hunger and Homelessness in Washington, D.C.; and Keeping it in the mitten in downtown Detroit.

Here is the link to the applications: http://www.alma.edu/academics/leadership/action/altbreak.

They are due back to the CSO by Oct. 23. Applications for the spring break trips will be available sometime in November.

Lauren Steinhurst ’14, an avid Alternative Break participant, says, “Alternative Break is a great way to help serve those in need. You create great relationships with the people you are helping while also building lasting relationships with other Alma College students.”

Cody Nevins ’15 echoes Lauren’s enthusiasm for the experience.

“Alternative Breaks have taught me so much more than just being able to travel with friends and log service hours. It has taught me to become an active citizen! Now that I’ve done three Alternative Breaks and gone to an Alternative Break conference, I’ve learned to research the issue I’m about to make a difference in, serve that community with understanding, and find ways to continue making a difference with that issue back at home,” Nevins says.

Alma College students on an Alternative Break in South Bend, Ind., focused on urban poverty.

If these student testimonials aren’t enough to convince you to try out an alternative break, stop by the CSO and get more information.

Though I won’t be doing an alternative break this time around, I am very happy to be returning home for a long weekend. I plan on spending time outdoors and enjoying the fall, as it is my favorite season. I want to cook and bake and catch up on my sleep. However, it won’t be completely homework-free.

I hope everyone has a safe drive home or a restful weekend on campus. After all, the other benefit of Fall Break is that it means we’re halfway to the end of the semester!


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