When you’re spending all your sunlight hours stuck in the library, you can’t help but daydream about your future trip to the beach, sunbathing the day away and drinking through the night. Oh, spring break. So now I’m bringing up the possibility of your choosing to volunteer during spring break instead. Oftentimes, when I mention that my plans for my break is volunteering elsewhere, my peers will say something like, “Oh, that sounds so cool, but I could never do something like that.” Well, why not do something like volunteer during your spring break? Why choose to participate in an Alternative Spring Break? Here are six reasons why you should participate on a volunteer trip during your spring break!
#1 Volunteering during spring break looks good on your resume.
I happened to use a week of my winter break back in January to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity of Anderson County in Oak Ridge, TN. I did this through a year-long commitment through NYU’s Alternative Breaks program. There were so many opportunities to show leadership: I drove a large part of the 14 hours road trip to and from there, took many opportunities to learn new tools, and got to take charge with different local volunteers. There’s a ton of talking points you have for your resume and your future interviews — especially with the typical behavioral questions you may get.
#2 Volunteering during spring break is a chance to go to a place you never traveled to before.
I’ve never been to Tennessee, so it was a wonderful experience to observe the local culture. But if you have something akin to an Alternative Breaks program at your university, you could get a chance to go to many different locations, both locally and internationally. In my program alone, I could have chosen to go to Virginia, Alabama, Florida, Nicaragua, Dominican Republican, Thailand, or Ghana! And that was only to list a few.
#3 Volunteering during spring break is cheaper than planning your own spring break trip.
Through NYU’s program, it was a mere $400 to spend 8 days on a domestic trip. Housing, meals, and transportation were all provided. How much cheaper can you get, unless your family already has a beach house and you’ll just be crashing there? And especially thanks to the hospitality to many church folk in Oak Ridge, I got many more delicious meals than I could have hoped for, so I was so happy for the entire week. For a trip to Costa Rica, it’s $1,500 dollars, which is comparable to an international trip. You should also keep in mind that you raise money for these trips, so if you’re proactive, your trips can cost absolutely nothing at the end of the day.
#4 Volunteering during spring break is a great way to make new friends.
There are several reasons why you’re highly likely to connect with one or more people who are on your trip. Volunteer organizations like Alternative Breaks are populated by self-selected individuals who want to spend time doling out good will. That alone will probably align some of your own beliefs or hobbies. But there is something about an extended trip (8 days) with people that really brings you and your group closer together.
#5 Volunteering during spring break is a great opportunity to learn something new.
I got to learn two major things while volunteering for my break: first, practical skills, such as painting a room properly, how to hammer with certain kinds of nails on certain materials, and the applications of previously mysterious tools. Second, I got to learn about the issues surrounding homelessness and the values of affordable housing and the steps Habitat for Humanity is taking to with our country’s current housing system. Whatever organization you choose to partner with, you will get the opportunity to learn a lot of various issues you never got the opportunity to learn the full extent of before.
#6 Volunteering during spring break will give you that warm, fuzzy feeling when you’re done.
One of the greatest memories I got from volunteering for my break were the stories of the people whom I helped and the people whom I volunteered with. Oh, and the appreciation of the people around you — I’ve never heard so many thank you’s for a simple thing I was doing in such a short period of time. There was even a time during the trip when my group was in a restaurant and we got approached by an older man who had overheard our conversation and thanked us for volunteering to help improve the community. Spontaneous thank you’s from random strangers — what a way to boost those warm fuzzies.
There you go, six reasons why you should volunteer on an Alternative Break for your spring break! Do you have any reasons why you should volunteer during your spring break?
Photo courtesy of US Consulate Chennai via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0).